Online shopping changing retail world

Updated: 2013-12-03 08:14

By Chen Jia in San Francisco (China Daily USA)

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As Black Friday fizzled out for US retailers, Chinese online consumers across the Pacific Ocean joined in a bigger e-commerce shopping wave on Monday to help bail them out.

"Even though many US brands say their Cyber Monday offers are not valid on international shipments, it is no problem for us to find overseas buyers on the Internet," Danny Mao, a 30-year-old Beijinger, told China Daily on Monday.

She purchased more than $6,000 worth of US branded merchandise on Cyber Monday, including handbags, outerwear, dresses, shoes and skincare products.

She did it by finding overseas buyers in San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York to order for her online and take advantage of Cyber Monday promotions.

"Overseas buyers always keep a close eye on popular websites and translate new deals into Chinese quickly. So I am alerted about them just three-to-five minutes after they become active," she said.

On Monday, ABC News quoted a survey by the National Retail Federation that American shopper spending over the Thanksgiving weekend dropped for the first time in seven years.

The report said spending was expected to hit a ceiling of $57.4 billion over the four-day weekend, a drop of 2.9 percent from the previous record. The trade group said consumers were being more cautious about spending.

"More money will be spent later in the season as consumers will be looking to find even larger discounts than what they experienced this past weekend," said Larry Chiagouris, a professor of marketing at Pace University's Lubin School of Business in New York.

"More money will be spent online as consumers become more comfortable with purchasing more expensive items," he said.

Shopping sprees also come from Chinese travelers visiting the US during the holiday season.

However, most of them were not standing in lines at Macy's or Walmart on the eve of Black Friday. Instead, they prefer fishing for deals online.

"Since I have a mailing address in the US, online shopping is a very convenient choice for me to save both time and energy," said Renee Gao, a Chinese IT software developer who was on a business trip to Silicon Valley.

Last year, she drove to Portland, Oregon from California during Black Friday weekend to shop tax-free.

"It used to cost me around $1,000 for car rental, insurance and hotel," she said. "I did the math, and decided to sit in front of the computer for Cyber Monday this year."

US retailers launched many of their Black Friday discounts early this year, and many of them also declared Monday the start of "Cyber Week", meaning it's not just Cyber Monday any more.

Gao had been persuaded, as early as the weekend before Black Friday, to buy a 50-percent-discounted Max Mara coat at Livermore Premier Outlet in North California at a final sale prize.

"My first reaction was to log on to the brand's website by mobile-phone and check updated details of the deal," she said. "The Internet and mobile commerce are changing the way Chinese consumers shop domestic and overseas."

In 2012, Chinese consumers spent a record 1.3 trillion yuan online, narrowing the gap with the US.

Brain &Co, a global management consulting company, earlier said the Chinese online retailing market has increased at a 71 percent compound annual growth rate since 2009 — about five-times as fast as its American counterpart.

The country, on a fast track of developing e-commerce, will officially take the online shopping crown from the US and become the world's No 1 early next year, according to a report in Bloomberg last month.

"Though I don't think the e-commerce rates in China will grow that fast, I believe the country will become the world's No 1 e-commerce market in 2016," said Larry Chiagouris.

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