Taobao shoppers favor mobile e-commerce over personal computers, data show

By Zhang Ye Source:Global Times Published: 2015-12-8 20:23:01

More than half of Taobao shoppers prefer mobile devices to personal computers when placing orders, according to a private report based on data from Alibaba Group Holding's online marketplace.

China has entered the era of mobile e-commerce with 61.7 percent of the transactions on, Alibaba's consumer-to-consumer e-commerce site, being completed with mobile devices in the third quarter of 2015, said the report, which was jointly released by Taobao and Shanghai-based data analysis agency CBNData on Tuesday in Beijing.

The report is a result of the tracking and analysis on the purchasing habits of more than 300 million Taobao consumers from 2011 to the third quarter of 2015. It is the first time that Taobao has released such a report.

Covering eight industries such as food, home appliances and clothing, the report is expected to serve as a guideline for retailers when deciding how to target shoppers depending on age and city, Huang Lei, general manager of the new media joint venture between Alibaba and Shanghai-based financial media firm China Business Network, told a press conference on Tuesday.

For instance, the Taobao consumer data showed that perfume demand from online shoppers aged between 50 and 70 is strong. Just in 2014, they bought 70 million yuan ($10.91 million) of perfume.

Off-line consumption trends can be reflected in online purchasing habits, said Huang, noting that Taobao has the largest consumer database in the world.

Analysts cautioned, however, that the report had limited value for physical stores.

"Even the most thorough analysis of online consumer data cannot fully reflect shoppers' habits," Wang Xiaoxing, an analyst with Beijing-based Analysys International, told the Global Times Tuesday.

Consumers still prefer to buy big-ticket home appliances at bricks-and-mortar stores, said Wang.

Online purchases actually contribute just a fraction of China's total retail sales. Data from the National Bureau of Statistics released in November showed that in the first 10 months of this year, e-commerce transactions were valued at 2.4 trillion yuan, just 10 percent of total retail sales.

"Also, most Taobao shoppers are young, so the report isn't comprehensive," Wang said, adding that the study seemed more like a chance to promote the site's "Double 12" shopping promotion, which falls on Saturday.

As an attempt to extend the success of the November 11 Singles' Day promotion on Alibaba's business-to-consumer online marketplace, the e-commerce giant added an event for Taobao users in 2011 that falls on December 12.

Wang said Saturday's event will attract some consumers who want to prepare for the Lunar New Year in early 2016, but most will be "rational" about their purchases after the Double 11 shopping event.

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