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Chinese Take to Mobile Shopping Faster Than Peers

Tuesday, 7 May 2013 | 2:30 AM ET
Aping Vision | STS | Getty Images

Here is another record for China - over the next 12 months one in four Chinese consumers are going to use their smartphones or tablets to shop online, double the global average, says the latest PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC) survey.

Chinese consumers may be relatively new to online shopping, compared to their Western peers, but they are not just fast catching up, they are in the process of overtaking them.

"Chinese consumers are leading the world in terms of online shopping frequency," says Carrie Yu, China and Asia Pacific Retail & Consumer Leader at PwC. "In China, 58 percent of our survey respondents shopped at least once a week, compared to 29 percent of the global sample."

The PwC study surveyed more than 11,000 online shoppers in 11 major countries like China, Brazil, the U.S., Russia, Germany and the U.K. and found that Chinese consumers were growing far more "sophisticated" than their global peers, and even using social media platforms to make online purchases.

The shift to mobile shopping - China is the world's largest mobile phone market with 1.15 billion subscribers - comes despite the fact that only 30 percent of the Chinese respondents said they had been shopping online for more than five years, in comparison to 44 percent of the global sample.

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China's online retail market, which accounts for 6 percent of China's total retail sales compared to 5 percent in the U.S. according to McKinsey, is being fueled by increasing internet subscribers and mobile phone users along with rising incomes and an influx of foreign consumer products.

According to PwC, as Chinese shoppers begin to use multiple shopping platforms, including mobile, there are likely to spend more as well, "77 percent of Chinese online shoppers will spend more on their top three favorite retailers as they start shopping across multiple channels," said Yu.

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The Chinese were also more likely to shop directly from a brand's or manufacturer's website, leapfrogging the retailer, at 56 percent, compared to 52 percent in the U.S.

"More Chinese online shoppers are also using social media to interact with brands, provide comments on companies and products, and find new brands," the report added.

- By CNBC.com's Rajeshni Naidu-Ghelani; Follow her on Twitter @RajeshniNaidu