GfK warns European retailers of the march of Chinese e-Commerce

New data from market research firm GfK has forecast a global drive from Chinese e-Commerce retailers whose next battleground is said to be Europe.

According to the data, Chinese e-commerce retailers enjoyed significant double-digit growth at nearly 23 percent. In the first half of 2018, the online share of technical consumer goods sales in China reached over 30 percent. Unlike the US and Europe, where internet penetration levels are at 80 percent or higher in most countries, China’s internet penetration is still low at 55 percent as much of its population is located rurally.

An anticipated surge in investment in China’s digital infrastructure, it is said, will further the growth of what is already the world’s largest internet community at 773 million users.

GfK forecasts that e-Commerce businesses will initially shoot for under-exploited markets. Regardless of segment, consumers are increasingly happy to buy online and will do so from sources further from home.

“Today’s consumers in the 18 observed European countries are feeling most comfortable buying IT products online (online share: 38 percent) over other product types. However, less popular online category sectors such as Telecommunication (online share: 21 percent), Consumer Electronics (online share: 22 percent) and Small Domestic Appliances (online share: 28 percent) are again showing high levels of online growth in the first half year 2018  – making these the product sectors to watch for increasing levels of online sales activities,” said the GFK report.

In the first half of 2018, e-Commerce sales accounted for nearly a third of the value of technical consumer products sold globally.

Shopping Habits

The method to purchase is increasingly mobile and tablet-based, with consumers complaining of being time poor, but with a tech-savviness never before seen.

Mobile devices are becoming the most important shopping tool’ with a significant upward trend (2015: 40 percent), according to GfK. The market research goes on to say that the Chinese e-commerce giants are well versed in the area of mobile commerce through domestic experience. For more than 80 percent of all technical durable goods shoppers in China, their smartphone or tablet is the preferred shopping device (GfK study from 2018).

Bricks and Mortar stands its ground

Data pulled from 18 European countries shows that consumers are not necessarily turning their backs on the High Street. Both in 2015 and 2018, GfK’s data shows that the number of consumers who believe physical shops to be losing relevance has stayed at 43%.

This latest GfK data was pulled from over 120 different sales channels and 425,000 individual retailers.

In the UK, GfK unfortunately pulled its data collection on the bicycle business, citing “insufficient support.”