Shanghai leads in mobile pay,Paris in shopping experience

By Louise Ho Source:Global Times Published: 2018/6/11 18:33:39

After moving from Shanghai to Paris, I can't believe that I have to adjust my way of shopping. Yes, you read that right. I have to change how I shop!

Shanghai leads in online shopping. I remember how easy it was to buy from Taobao and other shopping platforms. Especially in my last two years in Shanghai, shopping had become super easy. I used the mobile phone app of Taobao and paid with Alipay.

I could buy groceries on a mobile phone app. I could even choose a special delivery time with no extra fee. Once I bought only a box of cherry tomatoes for about 10 yuan ($1.56) and delivery was free!

Now in Paris, instead of shopping online, I have found myself buying things at brick and mortar shops for daily necessities, groceries, baby products and clothes. It's like traveling back in time!

Of course, it doesn't mean French people don't shop online. More and more people do. There's a French version of Taobao called Le Bon Coin (The Good Corner). There are also websites you can buy groceries from such as Ooshop, but everything is 15 percent more expensive than at brick and mortar supermarkets.

China's mobile payment transactions totaled 81 trillion yuan in the first 10 months of 2017, surpassing the US, a foreign media reported in February 2018. Virtually all shops, restaurants and delivery services in Shanghai (even fresh market stalls) accept payment by WeChat or Alipay.

Since coming to Paris I have never made a mobile payment. I'm back to using cash or credit cards. For transactions less than 20 euros ($23.56), you can put your credit card on a hand-held device without contact.

I have seen very few French people making mobile payments. A report by payments company WorldPay explains that French people are relatively slow to adapt to e-commerce because of security concerns and "a lack of compelling mobile shopping experiences." But the report expects France to soar in the e-commerce market within the next five years.

Another point of comparison is shopping malls. In Shanghai, there are big fancy shopping malls in all major commercial areas. It's a common pastime for Shanghai families to hang out at malls on weekends where they can shop, eat and watch a movie all in one stop.

Another special point about the shopping habits of Parisians is, just like there is always a convenience store on a street in Shanghai, there is always a bakery and a pharmacy in any neighborhood in Paris. This is called "le commerce de proximity" (nearby businesses).

Fresh bread and nice pastries are a religion for Parisians, which explains the necessity of having a bakery in every neighborhood. People eat baguette daily, and you have to queue up during lunchtime.

In Paris, pharmacists are professionally trained and the closest you can get to a doctor. Shanghai's pharmacies have middle-aged locals who sell drugs, but they are not professionals.

Another characteristic in Paris that is different from Shanghai is the popularity of small shops that sell artisanal specialty products such as butchers and fishmongers. There is now a trend in Paris to spend more money on products of higher quality in small artisanal shops rather than going to chain supermarkets.

These small shops are more expensive than big supermarkets but the products are of a higher quality. Fresh markets that open only on the weekend are always very popular but they are also more expensive.

That doesn't mean, of course, that Parisians don't go to supermarkets. They still buy daily necessities at supermarkets to complete their shopping. If e-payment becomes available and popular everywhere in Paris like in Shanghai, it will take the French shopping experience up a notch.

The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Global Times.

Illustration:Lu Ting/GT


Posted in: TWOCENTS

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