eCommerce in China – the future is already here

How retailers and brands are innovating to succeed in the most attractive, and challenging, retail market in the world

China, the largest eCommerce market in the world, is now setting the benchmark for present and future global retailing. This is driven by its mobile-first consumer behaviour, innovative social commerce model, and a trusted digital payments infrastructure.

This report builds on the findings of the Total Retail Survey 2017 to identify nine key trends that are shaping the recovery and growth in the retail and consumer products sector in China.

Key insights

Take a closer look at the nine trends, organised around three core themes, which characterise the recent developments in China’s eCommerce market.

New retail normal

Content driven eCommerce

New growth avenues

New retail normal

The increasing maturity of businesses in using data analytics and omni-channel technologies to create a seamless consumer journey between online and offline channels.

O2O matures into omni-channel

Most retailers in China are focusing investments in omni-channel fulfilment as they believe it is the area where the greatest opportunities exist.


Return on analytics

Many retailers and consumer packaged goods companies are using big data analytics to improve product development, merchandising strategy and physical footprint.

Content driven eCommerce

How brands and retailers are shifting from eCommerce as a transactional environment to incorporating social engagement and storytelling at the core of their customers’ digital experience strategy.

eCommerce entertainment

Retailers and brands are differentiating through experience. Businesses are recognising the need to change their eCommerce operating model.

Innovation at the intersection

Mobile and social engagement is critical to not just gather the attention of consumers today but to also capture the next wave of China’s consumer base.

Moments that matter

Retailers and brands need to become more creative, brand-led, engagement models that capture distinctive moments of delight throughout the social commerce journey.

Key opinion leaders as retailers

A distinctive new segment of social entrepreneurs, the key opinion leaders, are impacting the retail landscape in China. They monetise their personal brand and follower base by selling products, mostly fashion and cosmetics, over eCommerce platforms.

New growth avenues

How eCommerce, social and emerging technologies are driving breakout growth opportunities across food, luxury and sports retail categories.


Retailers and brands need to build better trust in the supply chain of food products by using emerging technologies like blockchain, which is one of the key enablers behind the growth of food eCommerce in China.


China’s new luxury consumer is much more willing to access and buy brands online, takes advantage of promotions and convenience; and has concerns over authenticity.

Sports and wellness

International brands have tapped into the China’s leisure boom and have gone beyond the product to focus on becoming an enabler of wellness as an outcomes through community engagement.

Contact us

Michael Cheng

Michael Cheng

Asia Pacific, Hong Kong and Mainland China Consumer Markets Leader, PwC China

Tel: +[852] 2289 1033

Kevin Wang

Kevin Wang

China Consumer Markets Leader, PwC China

Tel: +[86] (21) 2323 3715

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