Online retailing in China: Clicks trump bricks – after a slow start, internet shopping explodes in China

A woman living in Shanghai takes a long time to list all the items she has bought online in recent months: an iPod, a blender, a lamp, a rice cooker, a mobile phone, credit for it, a coffee-maker, coffee to put in it, Levi’s jeans (both real and counterfeit), underwear, paper, milk, snacks, toilet paper, butter, shampoo, DVDs and even some pretty orange fish for her aquarium. She also bought a few electric bicycles online and resold them at a profit to Americans via eBay, but has had to scrap this sideline thanks to stiff competition from other online entrepreneurs. Consumers in some places (notably America) have been slow to use the internet to make everyday purchases such as groceries. But in China the low cost of delivery and the high cost of property are feeding an e-tailing frenzy.Online retailing had lagged in China, thanks both to a relative scarcity of internet access and the lack of a trusted payment system for e-commerce. Financial regulators had no intention of allowing non-Chinese systems like PayPal to enter the market until strong domestic companies had established themselves. But both of these issues have now been resolved. Computers, internet cafés and web-browsing mobile phones have become ubiquitous. A local firm, Alibaba, has come up both with a popular electronic trading platform, Taobao, and an electronic payment system, Alipay (in addition to its business-to-business exchange, which is listed in Hong Kong).
http://www.economist.com/business-finance/displaystory.cfm?story_id=15955376

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