When CNY met eCommerce: Things to Learn from 2017 Chinese New Year Shopping

TMO GroupFebruary 9, 2017
When CNY met eCommerce: Things to Learn from 2017 Chinese New Year Shopping

“Nian Huo (年货) means “stuff you buy for Chinese New Year”, and “Nian Huo” Shopping (or simply “Chinese New Year Shopping”) is one of the most traditional holiday preparations and celebrations before Chinese New Year (CNY).

FYI: CNY is THE most important holiday for Chinese people, therefore they take CNY Shopping very, very seriously. During CNY 2017, what are the new trends of Nian Huo Shopping, especially under China’s eCommerce surge?

CNY 2017 ecommerce


1. 73% shoppers use eCommerce for CNY shopping.

Chinese shoppers went to shopping malls and supermarkets for CNY shopping as a tradition, but this year things start to change: 73% shoppers chose eCommerce, while 29% only use eCommerce for CNY shopping.

China eCommerce platform TMO Group

Easier logistics, saving time and promotions are reasons people choose eCommerce over offline shops. One of the greatest traditions of CNY is: Working and living in different cities, people bring “Nian Huo” back to their hometowns during CNY. These groups can benefit the most from eCommerce, since online shops will ship their “Nian Huo” back to their hometowns, instead of carrying stuffs by themselves.


2. Mobile commerce dominates

It is said that eCommerce in China is fundamentally mobile, and CNY 2017 proves it at best: based on the data from Tmall, 83% users went with mobile to place the order.

China mobile eCommerce TMO Group

Surprising? Not really. Mobile shopping is developing so fast that it is not only adapted by the younger generation, but also middle age groups. Mobile payments like Alipay & WeChat pay and mobile commerce ecosystem tapped into more households, with the potential to unlock even more.


3. Chinese spent big on eCommerce for CNY

48% of the surveyed Chinese shoppers has a budget between ¥1,000 to ¥3,000, while 20% plans to spent around ¥3,000 to ¥5,000.

In comparison, the average amount U.S. adults plan to spend $419 (approximately ¥2881) on holiday-related items this holiday season.

China eCommerce development TMO Group


4. What are they buying? Food, clothes and more food & clothes.

Buying good food and new clothes for family and self is a must-do tradition for CNY, and that reflect well on this year’s eCommerce spree. During this year’s Tmall CNY campaign, food sales increased 42%, while clothes and shoes sales improved 20%.

Top 5 best-selling categories are: Food & beverages, Women & Men shoes, Women apparel, kids products and bedding products.

Foreign brand enter China eCommerce tmo group


5. Love Chinese shoppers some foreign

Foreign brands can find a lot of fortune in China market during CNY, especially via cross border eCommerce.

Based on the survey result, over 70% shoppers will buy foreign products for CNY. To Chinese shoppers, foreign brand represent better quality, and they are willing to spend a little bit more during CNY “for its all worth”.cross border eCommerce tmo group

Besides, cross border eCommerce platforms have become a major channel to stock “Nian Huo” this year. To be more exact, cross border eCommerce websites like Amazon.cn and Kaola.com has become the 3rd popular channels to shop for CNY, only next to offline supermarkets/shopping centers and regular eCommerce sites. 39% of consumers chipped in on cross border eCommerce websites, which is twice more than last year (16%).

What foreign county contributed the most for 2017’s CNY? Top countries of origin are USA, Japan and Australia, followed by Korea and Germany.

Australia to China cross border eCommerce TMO Group

Yellow Tail, an Australian wine brand has strong presence on China eCommerce


Major takeaways for foreign businesses?

- eCommerce, more importantly, mobile eCommerce

Without further ado, mobile shopping is Ubiquitous for tech-savvy Chinese shoppers. Instead of figuring out how many shopping malls you should enter, how to set up an all-around China eCommerce platform (which is mobile friendly, of course) could be your No.1 task in this market.

China mobile eCommerce platform development

A mobile friendly eCommerce platform can help your China business.


- Consider rural areas

Don't be surprised: Imported products are the “latest darlings” for China's 3rd and 4th tier cities, even rural areas.

Cross border eCommerce TMO Group

eCommerce shoppers in China rural areas are willing to spend on foreign baby products.

Reason is: with the improvement of technology use and quality of life, rural area shoppers realized that imported goods are not “over-priced, luxurious goods that can be unattainable” any more. Down-to-the-earth price and fast delivery opened a door for these rural area customers purchasing foreign goods.

Based on the research, rural area customers are willing to spend more on child products, followed by food and cosmetics. That being said, you can unlock more potential in China rural areas with the help of eCommerce.

china localized ecommerce solution tmo group


- Study those who still do NOT buy foreign goods

Have you ever thought about this: Why there are still 30% of customers won’t spend a dime on foreign goods, even during CNY?

Here are the most voted reasons:

  • Not familiar with foreign goods and cross border eCommerce (45%)
  • Not sure if the recipients will recognize this brand/product if giving out as a gift (37%)
  • Does not match the CNY vibe (33%)

Some view these above as challenges, but others view these as opportunities. You can try your best to enhance your brand image, educate customers about your products.

The key is to send the right message. China market is so different from your own country, thus localized strategy is what you truly need. Learn your customers and figure out their likes & dislikes will eventually pay off and lead you to success in China market.

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