According to The Boston Consulting Group, China is on a trajectory to become the world’s largest online retail market, and is expected to achieve $364 billion in sales by 2015. Current projections for U.S. online retail offered my Forrester Research come in at about $304 billion.
The almost $60 billion discrepancy must be applied to the fact that the U.S. will have less than 300 million internet users by 2015 (eTForecasts predicts 288 million), and China is projected to have 701 million. While China is expected to become the largest online retail market, Americans are spending more. China currently has 513 million people online, and 8% of all purchases are made on the internet, by 193 million online consumers. The U.S. presently has about 170 million online shoppers, but by 2015, China will have close to 300 million.
Chinese internet shoppers currently spend about 1.6 hours a week browsing sites like the China’s version of Groupon, GaoPeng, searching for deals. Two of the largest retail sites in that country are Taobao Mall and Taobao Marketplace, which have more than 400 million users. The Taobao Mall hit $15.8 billion in gross merchandise value in 2011.
The management of the Taobao Mall and Taobao Marketplace expect sales of up to 1 trillion yuan in 2012. I don’t see the mention of 1 trillion thrown around much – the amount equates to about $159 billion. It is apparent that China’s Great Firewall is doing little to stem ecommerce in that country.