Consumers' Adoption of Online Shopping in China

Consumers' Adoption of Online Shopping in China

Yi Cai (California State University – Northridge, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-9787-4.ch111
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Chinese Online Shoppers

An underlying assumption of a well-functioned online market system benefiting consumers is that consumer participation in online activities in general and in e-commerce in particular will continue to grow exponentially. Therefore, it is important to learn that in China who uses the Internet and shops online and who does not, and to investigate what attracts consumers to go online and shop there, how and what they do when they shop online, and what factors might accelerate or slow the growth in consumer online activities.

Profiling Chinese Online Shoppers

The rapid transition to market economy in China and the unprecedented development of e-commerce have reshaped the way Chinese consumers shop. In 2006, only about one fourth (24.5%) Internet users shopped online; in 2013 almost half (48.9%) of Internet users did (Chinese Internet Network Information Center, 2014). Researchers have examined the profile of online shoppers from different perspectives, including their demographics, socioeconomic characteristics, psychosocial characteristics, and attitude characteristics. Similar to those in Western countries, the Chinese online shoppers tend to be male, well educated, with a higher income and mainly in the age bracket between 20 and 30 (Chinese Internet Network Information Center, 2014; Gang et al., 2013; Sorce et al., 2005). There is evidence, however, from surveys that online shopping in China has increasingly be adopted by every consumer segment in an unprecedented rate—for example, the percentage of 40 years of age or older online shoppers has increased from 2.3% in 2009 to 11.3% in 2015; and those with education level of high school or lower has increased from 24% in 2009 to 33% of all Internet users in 2015 (Chinese Internet Network Information Center, 2010; Chinese Internet Network Information Center, 2014). Researchers also have found that the Chinese online shoppers tend to be time conscious, self-confident, have a positive attitude toward Internet shopping, and have personal values of openness to change and self-enhancement (Sin & Tse, 2002; Wu et al., 2011). Other researchers have found that having computer capacity, online experience, and a web-based lifestyle are characteristics of Chinese online shoppers (Li, 2009).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Online Flow Experience: Individuals have concentration and experience a shift in their perception of control over online activities, which are characterized as interactivity, intrinsic enjoyment, loss of self-consciousness, and self-reinforcing.

Technology Acceptance Model: In explaining online shopping adoption and usage, the model examines the effect of perceived ease of use (PEOU) and perceived usefulness (PU) on consumers’ intention to shop online and actual online shopping behavior.

Digital Inequality: The disparities in knowledge and ability of using digital and information technology among individuals with different demographics, socioeconomic backgrounds, and digital and information technology experience and competencies.

Social Commerce: A part of e-commerce that uses social media to support interaction between business and consumers.

Theory of Planned Behavior: For online shopping, the theory suggests that a consumer’s purchase intention depends on his/her attitude about the purchase, subjective norms, and perceived behavior control. Also, a consumer’s purchase intention leads to his/her actual purchase behavior.

Digital Divide: A gap between people with effective access to digital and information technology and those with limited or no access.

Mobile Shopping: Mobile networks and devices supporting online shopping activities, such as information searching, purchasing, payment, and communication.

Diffusion of Innovation: A process indicating how innovations (such as the Internet and online shopping) are communicated to individuals within a society over time and how individuals adopt or reject the innovations.

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