Five e-commerce trends in China in 2023

China, the world’s largest e-commerce market in terms of sales, provides highly valuable consumer trends for the global retail sector due to its innovative nature. In addition, knowing the trends for 2023 in electronic commerce in China is especially useful for Spanish companies that export or wish to grow by exporting to a market as large as China. And it is that, some 1 billion local consumers made online purchases in China during 2022, which represents 45.3% of retail e-commerce worldwide according to Insider Intelligence.

The categories that stood out the most in China due to their growth were “outdoor sports” and “pet sitting”, while virtual influencers and the metaverse showed their potential to transform online retail. Hence, they are included among the five e-commerce trends in China in 2023 prepared with information from the Alibaba Group digital ecosystem and opinions from e-commerce experts and entrepreneurs.

outdoor sports

Outdoor enthusiasts in China took to the ski slopes and camping in droves in 2022. Travel restrictions and the Winter Olympics in Beijing spurred young people to get outdoors. Proof of this was, for example, the 300% growth in sales of winter sports items between January 31 and February 4 in the Tmall marketplace. Likewise, social activities are in fashion, such as the number of players of frisbees (flying discs) in China grew from just 100 people in 2008 to around 500,000 in 2021.

Pet food and accessories

Living with animals in the home is changing in China, with consumers increasingly buying them clothing and technological devices specifically made for them. In addition, cat and dog food brands on Tmall posted triple-digit year-on-year sales growth during the first period of the 11.11 Global Shopping Festival. For example, the North American brand Instint has doubled its business in China in the last three years.

On the other hand, younger Chinese consumers are also investing in digital gadgets such as smart feeders that record the eating habits of their pets.


The metaverse expanded in 2022 and companies in the fashion industry explored its potential by developing digital collections, virtual test services, etc. In this sense, Alibaba Group’s marketplaces and digital ecosystem allow consumers to explore brands through game-like experiences, browse digital showrooms with personalized avatars, try on clothes, and purchase collectible tokens.

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For example, since the end of 2021, nearly 24 luxury brands have launched 37 digital collections on Alibaba’s Tmall Luxury Pavilion and have been purchased by thousands of consumers. For example, the British brand Burberry created a private digital salon for the sale of its coats in the Tmall Luxury Pavilion.

Seduce Generation Z

Generation Z shoppers, born between 1996 and 2010, make up about 15% of the Chinese population as of 2021, but they have a huge influence on consumer trends because they accounted for about two-thirds of consumers on Tmall Global in 2022 and more than 17% in Tmall Luxury Pavilion.

The purchasing power of zoomers is increasing. Thus, in 2022, the total number of luxury gifts at Tmall Luxury Pavilion purchased by this segment of the population exceeded those purchased by those born after 1985 for the first time.

Another characteristic of this generation is that they are more willing to pay for experiences and have a greater desire to stand out from the crowd, transforming what were previously considered niche categories such as skateboarding and soft drinks into trends. .

Therefore, the challenge is to know them and satisfy their demands. Thus, many brands are turning to the Tmall Innovation Center, dedicated to product innovation and development, to accelerate the launch of products for the Z generation in China.

The virtual influencers

According to the market research company Forrester, virtual influencers will become more common in 2023. In fact, it predicts that one fifth of B2C brands in China will use digital idols to improve consumer shopping experiences this year.

In 2022, many digital creations powered by artificial intelligence became true celebrities, walking down virtual catwalks, projecting themselves on dance competition stages and conducting livestreaming sessions. A large number of Chinese brands turned to these virtual idols to build their profiles and amass a following among digital native consumers.

In February 2022, for example, Alibaba Group introduced the digital influencer dong dong to help consumers during the Beijing Winter Olympics.

Another example is Noah, Alibaba Group’s male virtual idol, who appeared on a livestream for American fashion brand Tommy Hilfiger in September, nearly quadrupling his sales volume compared to a normal day.

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