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IAB: Chinese consumers are nearly twice as likely to purchase on devices than their US counterparts


By Lisa Lacy | n/a

November 10, 2016 | 4 min read

The IAB has released the results of a study on digital commerce in the US and China, which found Chinese consumers engage in more shopping behaviors on smartphones and tablets than US consumers.

Chinese consumers are nearly twice as likely to purchase on devices than their US counterparts.

Chinese consumers are nearly twice as likely to purchase on devices than their US counterparts.

According to the research, both the US and China have achieved “near-full adoption of digital commerce,” with 89% of Chinese consumers over the age of 18 and 84% of US consumers over the age of 18 saying they had bought a product or service digitally in the past 12 months.

What’s more, the IAB said 67% of Chinese digital users have made a mobile purchase over the past 12 months compared to 34% of US digital users. In addition, 24% of Chinese mobile shoppers purchase via mobile every day versus 15% of US mobile shoppers. The IAB also said 89% of Chinese mobile shoppers are interested in making a mobile purchase over the next month versus 78% of US mobile shoppers

According to the IAB, digital purchases account for 59% of all monthly purchases in China and 42% of those in the US Of those purchases, 48% are made via mobile in China, while mobile commerce accounts for 26% in the US.

The report also found ample cross-channel opportunities in both markets, with 31% of Chinese and 29% of US digital shoppers utilizing both digital and offline channels when deciding on a purchase. Chinese shoppers are also more likely to research and compare prices digitally while within a physical store with 38% saying they do so all the time or most of the time compared to 23% of US shoppers who say they do the same. They are also more likely to use more than one digital device over the course of the purchase process (67% China vs. 43% US), the IAB said.

American consumers tend to favor multi-product retailers when buying digitally, with 72% of US consumers making a purchase from one of these outlets compared to 61% of Chinese shoppers. Meanwhile, Chinese digital shoppers are more likely to buy from sites or apps that highlight discounts (63% China vs. 37% US) or that allow them to compare prices from different sites or apps (51% China vs. 29% U.S.), the IAB said. Chinese shoppers are also more likely to make a purchase via a messaging app (29% China vs. 16% U.S.), while US shoppers are more likely to buy via auction sites (33% U.S. vs. 25% China), the IAB found.

What’s more, the study found payment is much more likely to take place via a digital payment service like PayPal or WePay in China (47% China vs. 15% US on computer; 36% China vs. 17% US on mobile) or a mobile wallet service like Apple Pay (21% China vs. 2% US).

However, even though the research indicates strong adoption of digital shopping, the IAB said obstacles remain. Most notably is security, with only 13% of Chinese digital shoppers and 30% of US digital shoppers feeling completely safe shopping digitally. But while American consumers are concerned about information safety and privacy, Chinese shoppers are more fearful of digital fraud and scams.

“This study confirms that mobile is a crucial and growing part of the e-commerce experience,” said Anna Bager, senior vice president and general manager of mobile and video at the IAB, in a statement. “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 U.S. We expect to see that trend extend to U.S. mobile commerce going forward.”

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