Buyers increasingly finding high-end home appliances on e-commerce sites
The home appliances market in China is being reshaped by e-commerce, with shoppers splashing out 264 billion yuan ($38.7 billion) to buy major household goods on internet platforms in the first half of this year, an industry report revealed.
That was an increase of 22 percent year-on-year. Moreover, it was five times the figure of five years ago, as the trend of buying major household goods on the internet has intensified, according to a report released by the China Center for Information Industry Development, a think tank affiliated with the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology.
"Despite the weaker growth momentum of the overall home appliances market, the proportion of online sales hit a new high, because e-commerce platforms ensure good user experience by efficiently integrating online and offline services," the report said.
Figures showed that online sales of air conditioners, refrigerators and washing machines jumped by 33 percent to 45 percent year-on-year. That was higher than the growth reported among offline retailing channels, which saw growth of between 7 percent and 20 percent.
The expansion of the TV market is almost entirely dependent on internet platforms, which defies the slowdown in brick-and-mortar stores, the report added, without offering specific data.
"Chinese consumers have already developed the habit of buying almost everything online. The expensive, large-size home appliances can now also be bought with a mouse click, with e-commerce companies building trust with consumers and offering free installation services," said Lu Zhenwang, CEO of Shanghai-based Wanqing Consultancy.
The report also found the increasing popularity of higher-priced home appliances in online retailing channels. Air conditioners ranging from 5,000 yuan to 6,999 yuan had major appeal, with online sales jumping 55 percent.
Washing machines priced from 4,500 yuan to 6,499 yuan were the fastest-growing segment, with sales soaring by 130 percent year-on-year.
"E-commerce platforms used to be reserved for low-price products. But now not just price-sensitive but quality-conscious consumers flock to these websites or mobile applications for goods," Lu said.
A group of emerging home appliances are also receiving wider attention. The sales of robot vacuum cleaners on online platforms are eight times that seen in offline stores, the report said.
As for the big online winners, JD still tops the home appliance sector with an internet market share of 60.5 percent. Alibaba Group Holding Ltd's online marketplace Tmall.com grabbed a 28.3 percent slice of the market, while Suning Commerce Group Co Ltd came next with 10 percent.