China braced for boom in online food sales

China's e-commerce boom will be ignited by a rise in smartphone savvy shoppers

Online food sales in China could double in the next decade, thanks to a massive upsurge in smartphone shopping, research firm IGD has claimed.

While there were no meat-specific insights from the report, the research suggested online food shopping in China would increase by over 100% by 2020.

Food sales from e-commerce currently account for 3% of all grocery sales in China and this could increase to nearly 7% in the next three years.

Shirley Zhu, Asia programme director at IGD, said China’s online food sales were already the world’s largest by value and there was no reason to expect this to slow down.

Smartphone savvy shoppers

Internet and smartphone usage is growing across China, while the country’s demographics are changing too – there is a rising population of young, middle-class shoppers leading busier lives,” said Zhu.

In turn, this is creating an aspirational class of shoppers who want access to grocery products at the click of a button, and who are also increasingly looking to source international goods. Clearly, retailers have been responding to these trends, with lots of players looking to grab a slice of the action.

Alibaba’s Tmall and JD.com, the two biggest e-commerce firms in China, retain strong positions in the online grocery realm.

But many others are entering the fray too. Bee Quick, for example, focuses on fresh products and can deliver food to shoppers within an hour across the 14 major Chinese cities it operates in. IGD claimed the company was investing heavily to optimise its online capabilities.

The insight firm said it expected voice-activated technology, artificial intelligence and virtual reality to play a greater role in grocery sales as the market continues to grow.

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