China Retail and Ecommerce 2018

The Convergence of Online, Offline and Technology

About This Report
China’s fast-paced retail ecommerce growth hasn’t spelled doom for physical stores. Rather, brick-and-mortar is undergoing a transformation of its own, underlined by an infusion of technology and the growing integration between online and offline.
Table of Contents

Executive Summary

Retail ecommerce in China is being shaped by fast growth and innovation, driven by companies such as Alibaba and Now these technology companies are applying the same rigor in their quest to transform physical retail spaces.

  • What’s the forecast for retail and ecommerce sales in China for 2019? We forecast total retail sales in China will grow 7.5% to reach $5.636 trillion in 2019. Retail ecommerce sales will grow at a much higher rate of 30.3% to $1.989 trillion, making up 35.3% of total retail sales. This is driven by consumers’ willingness to spend on higher-priced items or better products.
  • How far along is the retail industry digital transformation? The retail industry value chain in China is at an early stage of digital transformation, driven by the country's biggest internet companies, some of which are providing their services and technology to brick-and-mortar retailers. A number of smaller artificial intelligence (AI) startups are also in this area.
  • Are consumers in China open to trying out emerging in-store technology? Consumers in China are very open to exploring new retail tech and ideas. However, they aren’t easily bought with gimmicks. What stands out the most about consumers in China is their desire for personalized and unique retail experiences.
  • Are consumers in China concerned about data privacy? While consumers in China are relatively relaxed overall in terms of sharing data with retailers, they have also grown worried about data privacy issues, due to several high-profile data leaks in recent years. And they are among the most willing to abandon a brand in case of a data breach.

WHAT’S IN THIS REPORT? This report looks at the most prevalent retail trends in China, including various retail technologies and new retail phenomena, and highlights consumers’ attitudes toward this fast-changing landscape.

KEY STAT: Total retail sales growth in China will continue to be robust in 2019, driven by strong growth in retail ecommerce sales and an uptick in digital buyers.

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Table of Contents

  1. Executive Summary
  2. State of the Economy, Retail and Consumption: Fluid and Ever-Changing
  3. Shifting Consumer Attitudes Toward Data Privacy
  4. Brick-and-Mortar’s Experiential Makeover
  5. The Origin of ‘New Retail’
  6. China’s Online Giants Invest in Offline Retail
  1. Singles’ Day Is a Launching Pad for Retail Tech
  2. Tech’s Brick-and-Mortar Takeover
  3. Augmented Reality
  4. Retail’s Real Challenge: Getting the Basics Right
  5. Luckin and Starbucks’ New Retail Conundrum
  6. Key Takeaways
  1. eMarketer Interviews
  2. Read Next
  3. Sources
  4. Media Gallery

Charts in This Report

Interviewed for This Report

Elena Gatti
Managing Director
Interviewed October 26, 2018
Steven Gutteridge
AKQA China
Head of Technology
Interviewed November 4, 2018
Zino Helmlinger
CBRE China
Head of Retail
Interviewed October 26, 2018
Nishtha Mehta
CollabCentral Consulting
Interviewed November 7, 2018
Jeanette Phang
OMD China
Executive Director, Marketing Sciences
Interviewed October 26, 2018
Mark Tanner
China Skinny
Founder and Managing Director
Interviewed October 26, 2018
Patrick Viney
Vice President, Retail Industry Strategy, Asia-Pacific
Interviewed November 6, 2018
Wilson Yao
Interviewed November 6, 2018
Jason Yu
Kantar Worldpanel
General Manager China
Interviewed November 9, 2018

Read This With Insider Intelligence


Man-Chung Cheung


Jennifer Jhun
Research Director, International and Special Projects
Andrew Lipsman
Principal Analyst
Yoram Wurmser
Principal Analyst
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