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Chinese Shoppers Twice as Likely to Shop on Mobile

Tim Maytom

People using smartphones in subway trainChinese consumers are almost twice as likely to make purchases on smartphones and tablets compared to US shoppers, with nearly a quarter of mobile users in China making daily purchases on their mobile device.

The figures come from a new report by the IAB, comparing the digital commerce markets in the US and China. The research found that while both of the world's two largest economies have achieve near full adoption of digital commerce, China is leading when it comes to mobile.

67 per cent of Chinese digital users have made a mobile purchase over the previous 12 months, compared to 34 per cent of US digital consumers. 24 per cent of Chinese mobile shoppers make digital purchases daily, versus just 15 per cent in the US, and 89 per cent of Chinese mobile shoppers plan to make a mobile purchase in the next month, compared to 78 per cent of US shoppers.

These contrasting behaviours translate to significant differences in mobile purchase levels, with 48 per cent of all digital transactions made via mobile in China, compared to 26 per cent in the US. China also boasts higher overall levels of eCommerce adoption, with 59 per cent of all monthly purchases made digitally, compared to 42 per cent in the US.

It's not all bad news for bricks and mortar retailers though, with cross-channel opportunities plentiful in both markets. Around 30 per cent of digital shoppers in both countries use both online and offline channels when making a purchasing decision, although Chinese shoppers are more likely to 'showroom', with 38 per cent comparing prices in-store, versus 23 per cent in the US.

The study also revealed different priorities when it comes to eCommerce. Americans tend to favour the convenience of multi-product retailers and the flexibility of auction sites. Meanwhile, Chinese consumers are more likely to focus on sites or apps that highlight discounts or allow for price comparison, and are happier to make purchases via messaging apps.

Digital payment services and mobile wallets are also significantly more popular in China, on both mobile and desktop, while credit and debit cards show higher rates in the US. The difference in mobile wallet adoption is particularly pronounced, with 21 per cent of Chinese consumers having used one, versus just two per cent of US shoppers.

Security concerns remain an obstacle to adoption, although they manifest in different ways. American shoppers are more likely to cite information safety and privacy as a fear, while Chinese consumers focus on digital fraud and scams.

"This study confirms that mobile is a crucial and growing part of the eCommerce experience," said Anna Bager, senior vice president and general manager for mobile and video at the IAB.

"While China has always been a mobile-first culture, as their initial adoption of the internet was driven by mobile devices, we are now seeing tremendous year-over-year upticks in terms of mobile growth in the US. We expect to see that trend extend to US mobile commerce going forward."

"With Singles' Day, one of the largest digital shopping days in the world, coming up tomorrow, it's vital to note how much commerce happens on small screens," said Chen Yong, secretary general of the Interactive Internet Advertising Committee of China and head of IAB China.

"Marketers who want to reach Chinese shoppers need to follow their lead by investing in mobile advertising, so they can bring their messages to the right people at the right time and right location."