China is where it’s at for online retail: Forrester

E-commerce spending in China is forecast to grow from US$294 billion in 2013 to $672 billion in 2018

China is set to overtake the Unites States as the world’s largest online retail market, according to Forrester research.

According to Forrester’s Asia Pacific Online Retail Forecast, 2013 to 2018, e-commerce spending in China is forecast to grow from US$294 billion in 2013 to $672 billion in 2018. China, Japan, South Korea, India, and Australia are forecast to outpace US and Western Europe, with online retail doubling from US$398 billion in 2013 to US$858 billion in 2018. These countries together are already close to the combined US and Western Europe revenue figures.

“Across every market in Asia Pacific, online retail revenues continue to grow,” states Forrester’s research report. “The countries will be some of the world’s biggest drivers of global e-commerce growth going forward.”

In Australia, e-commerce spending is forecast to grow from US$23.5 billion in 2013 to US$37.8 billion in 2018.

“Australia, with a population of just 23 million, is less than half the size of any other country included from a population perspective,” read the report.

“In the past, leading traditional retailers in Australia were slow to come online, with some dismissing e-commerce for years. By now, however, retailers like David Jones, Myer, Woolworths Supermarkets, and Harvey Norman have invested heavily in their online offerings.

With the proliferation of mobile devices, omnichannel is a key trend in China and across the Asia-Pacific, according to Forrester.

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“Retailers are rolling out smartphone and tablet offerings, as well as launching other omnichannel options such as click-and-collect.

“In China, for example, traditional retailers like Suning have made omnichannel a top corporate priority to compete against strong Web-only retailers. In Australia, where local traditional retailers were slow to embrace the online channel, the bar was raised by global players such as Topshop and Zara that had honed their omnichannel options elsewhere.

Forrester also identified Web-only retail as a dominant trend. “Consumers have flocked to online pure-plays over their traditional retail counterparts. In very few markets in the region do traditional retailers hold any dominant position – or even come close to competing with the Web-only giants.”

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