China's e-commerce industry has developed at a rate that is impacting dramatically on the country. In fact, China is now developing new models of online business that will have impact on how e-commerce is conducted in the west.
It is widely believed that e-commerce in China will lead that country's economy into a new era where customer focus, responsible business practices and innovation are the determinants of success rather than cultivating relationships with people in high places.
As the western world began to embrace e-commerce in the mid-1990s, China could do little more than watch. The idea that one could buy from strangers just by clicking a mouse was incredible.
No credit cards were available, no online banking and you could only access the internet if you were one of the few with a telephone line. An if you did the connection was slow an expensive.
What westerners consider a simple task - posting a package - mean long waits in long lines at the post office. State run organizations, which included the whole Chinese retail system, were inefficient, and low disposable incomes meant improvements were a low priority.
In its infancy, China's e-commerce was driven by businesses that saw the opportunity for finding both suppliers and buyers. When it entered the World Trade Organization, companies on the fertile east coast of China, where businesses had begun to flourish, saw the internet as key to connecting to trade partners.
A milestone year for Chinese e-commerce was 2003, for a couple of reasons. Firstly, the country's first generation of internet users was graduating from universities, and they were quick to grasp the concepts of online commerce, shopping and gaming.
A healthy consumer culture was the result of increasing disposable incomes, and the previously state run retail outlets were no longer able to cope.
Secondly, major investments in China were being made by international e-commerce companies. This resulted in real competition between local and foreign companies for the first time.
To instill trust in both buyers and sellers of online traders, escrow systems were developed, and real-time chat enabled them to get to know one another before confirming deals.
This was a very important feature, because the cultural history of the Chinese society saw relationships as one of the most important channels in establishing trust.
By 2007 for the first time the amount spent on online transactions surpassed the cash taken by physical retailers in China. And in a departure from the way online purchasing progressed in the west, users of online payment systems exceeded the number of credit card holders.
2008 has seen the trend towards a new type of business, conducted by entrepreneurs, niche marketers who deal directly with niche retailers, cutting out the middlemen. A lot of them are buying in large quantities from China and then onselling to western countries. Individuals from the west are embracing the "drop, ship" concept - marketing products that are fulfilled and shipped from China.
One of the biggest opportunities for westerners to tap into the growing Chinese internet boom is with information products. Downloadable 'how to' and 'best ways to' ebooks, courses and webinars are hot items in China, and they can apply to business, hobbies, crafts or entertainment.
About the Author
There are definite differences in the way business is done in China, both online and offline. There are cultural and governmental issues to be aware of, but fortunately the new ebook "Chinese eWhispers" has the answers you need. http://www.chineseewhispers.com