Online Shopping In China

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1. Introduction

After experiencing the accelerated development of internet technology and the explosive growth in E-commerce transactions in China over the past 20 years, the number of online shoppers in China had increased to more than 638 million in the first half of 2019, and online commerce transactions had reached approximately 9.9 trillion yuan in 2019 (Statista, 2020). Online shopping has been becoming an indispensable consumption channel for Chinese internet users. With a steady growth of Chinese residents’ disposable income, consumers are spending more money on different online

products, their preferences and satisfaction to online shopping are a matter of concern at the same time. This study aims to investigate the behavioral preferences of Chinese online shoppers and their attitudes towards shopping experiences.

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2. Literature review

Before analyzing the shopping habits of Chinese consumers and their attitudes, it is important to understand the benefits and challenges of online shopping and influencing factors. Suvarna (2016) points out that online malls present obvious advantages in terms of the large variety of products, convenience, better prices, but they have to face challenges due to problems of payment, reliability and delivery. It is believed that consumers’ satisfaction towards online shopping would be influenced by perceived usability, transaction security and privacy, quality and service of product, reputation and design of website, payment method, delivery service and so on (Chen et al., 2016; Guo et al, 2012; Jun & Jaafar, 2011). Furthermore, personal factors such as education level, the experience of network also affect online shopping experience (Wang et al. 2008).

Many studies have been conducted regarding online shopping behaviors of consumers. A study in Jordan (Momani et al., 2017) shows that consumers have the behavioral preferences to shopping time, place, device, websites, delivery speed and payment method, while the demographic factors are playing a significant role in variating these preferences. Besides, Kılıç and Ateş (2019) reveals that customers’ purchase preferences show difference between men and women, additionally, time and money spent on the internet have a statistically significant positive relationship.

However, Buettner (2020) finds that there is no age difference between online shoppers of the “digital native” generation, and he emphasizes the importance of education and financial situation and the unimportance of gender and age.

Based on the review, the following research questions are put forward in this study: What are the behavioral preferences of Chinese online consumers? Whether there are demographical differences regarding shopping behaviors? What are the attitudes of today’s Chinese shoppers towards online shopping?

3. Methodology

The descriptive study was conducted using survey questionnaire, which was translated into Chinese in order to avoid respondents’ misunderstanding. Data were collected through online techniques, employing non-probability sampling. Online shopping behaviors were investigated by the following variables: consumers’ shopping frequency, expenditure, preferred platform, type of consumer goods and payment pattern. Attitudes towards online shopping referred to shoppers’ choosing preference between online malls and brick-and-mortar stores, as well as the consumer satisfaction in security, delivery speed, goods quality and price. Furthermore, Pearson correlation analysis by the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS) was conducted to identify whether factors such as gender, age, income and education level are significant in relation to online shopping frequency and expenditure respectively.

4. Results and Discussion

4.1 Demographic Profile

A total of 106 questionnaires were collected in this research survey, and the demographic profile of the participants shows in table 1. Among all participants, there are 36 males and 70 females who come from different areas of China. The majority of participants are aged between 18-40 (91%) who are the “digital native” generation. And 22%, 63% and 15% of respondents are at the education level of secondary education or below, higher education or equivalent, and postgraduate or above, respectively. Their income varies from less than 2,000 yuan to more than 50,000 yuan. Additionally, all participants have online shopping experience, and more than 99% of them have shopped online over 2 years (Figure 1D), which are in accordance with the target population of this research.

Demographic Profile of Respondents

Variables Number Percentage (%)

Gender Male 36 34%

Female 70 66%

  • Age Under 18 years old 2 2%
  • 18-25 years old 47 44%
  • 26-30 years old 37 35%
  • 31-35 years old 9 8%
  • 35-40 years old 3 3%
  • Over 40 years old 8 8%

Education Secondary education or below 23 22%

Higher education or equivalent 67 63%

Postgraduate or above 16 15%

  • Monthly Income Less than 2000 yuan 28 26%
  • 2000-4000 yuan 21 20%
  • 4000-6000 yuan 22 21%
  • 6000-8000 yuan 14 13%
  • 8000-10000 yuan 10 9%
  • 10000-20000 yuan 5 5%
  • 20000-50000 yuan 5 5%
  • More than 50000 yuan 1 1%

4.2 Results of Online Shoppers’ Behavioral Preferences

The results (Figure 1) show that Taobao, Tmall and are the top three popular online platforms for consumers, and 88% of shoppers tend to shop on The products that most customers bought online are clothing, foods and household products, but interestingly, males prefer to buy electronic products rather than other goods while the clothing is the favorite purchase of females. Besides, Alipay is the most popular payment pattern, at 91.5%, followed by WeChat pay (56.6%), and new credit pay ranks the third (37%).

4.3 Consumers’ attitudes towards online shopping

Consumers’ satisfaction degree can be the reflection of their attitudes towards online shopping. In this study, better prices, large variety of products, convenience constitute common reasons for online shopping. Most consumers are satisfied with prices, delivery, and security of online shopping while a little more people show less confidence in quality of products. Thus, people show a positive attitude overall, and more consumers (38%) prefer online shopping in contrast to bricks and mortar (5%).

5. Conclusions and Limitations

Online consumption plays a significant role in the development of retail industry, and has become important driving force of Chinese economy in recent years. Understanding consumers’ behaviors and attitudes contributes to increasing satisfaction of online shopping. This study provides an overall perspective of online shoppers in China, consumers with different gender, ages, income and education level present some behavioral preferences, but these demographical factors show no

statistically significant correlation to online shopping frequency, only income have an influence on the online expenditure. In addition, most consumers have a positive attitude towards online shopping. Sellers and platforms could consider how to provide better services for their current and potential online clients according to the findings.

Limitations: The results of this study may not be the complete reflection of all the Chinese online consumers, because the sample size is not large enough, and the data analysis is limited. It is strongly recommended that future study could be extended further to obtain more accurate data and have a comprehensive understanding of Chinese consumers and online market.


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