The cultural habits and preferences of 1.365 billion people in China are not well understood in the West, and online shopping is no different according to new research released today.
The Lincoln University study points to quality service and, risk and security concerns as key factors influencing Chinese consumers decision to shop on line.
"With the right kind of research, the e-shopping experience can be dramatically improved, thereby going some way to retaining current customers and sourcing new ones," said Lincoln University's senior lecturer in marketing, Mike Clemes.
China is the world's largest internet market, with its inhabitants spending around 1 billion hours on the internet every day.
The Lincoln University analysis of online shopping in China is as important to New Zealand businesses looking to attract Chinese consumers as it is to Chinese businesses themselves, Clemes said.
"What's particularly interesting about China... is not only how little is known about e-shopping behaviours, but how few Chinese consumers relative to the country's population actually use the internet for their purchases," he said.
The research found female consumers in China are more likely to shop online than their male counterparts; a trend that is becoming increasingly pronounced.
Clemes suggests E-retailers should consider providing online forums and chat rooms for female consumers to share their experiences as well as ensuring high-end encryption technology is used to mitigate consumer security concerns.
After-sale service is also a key factor in attracting high income Chinese consumers.
A notable finding of the research was that wealthy Chinese consumers have a much lower inclination to shop online.
"This may be a tied to a preference for more up-market products, with the consumers preferring to physically examine the product and take advantage of any support services offered in an in store environment," Clemes said.
More research is probably required around the key decision-making factors for online shopping among Chinese consumers, he said.