For retailers looking for the best ways to make purchases convenient for Chinese customers, a new study confirms that mobile payments are more critical than ever in the China market.
According to the results of a recent Nielsen survey, 99 percent of Chinese online shoppers now use mobile payment apps, up from 96 percent last year. The survey of 5,000 people also found that handheld mobile devices continue to dominate as the platform of choice for online shopping, used by 81 percent of survey respondents compared to 59 percent for desktop computers and 57 percent for laptop computers.
Most mobile payments in China are made through Alibaba’s Alipay or Tencent’s WeChat Pay, with Alipay being used more frequently for brands’ online shops in China. International luxury brands have been wary of diving into the e-commerce market, and especially slow to adopt WeChat sales. This is starting to change for those who have decided to act early, as an estimated 10 percent of high-end brands—including Cartier—have WeChat shops that allow users to pay with WeChat Pay. Meanwhile, Dior and Bulgari both recently hosted limited-edition WeChat sales for the Qixi Festival (“Chinese Valentine’s Day”) that allowed users to purchase items using WeChat’s payment system.
Mobile payments are also becoming increasingly important for brick-and-mortar sales in China, and Alipay is currently making a major push with international retailers hoping to attract Chinese tourists. It launched in April 2016 in Europe, allowing traveling Chinese shoppers to purchase items from participating retailers through having a barcode scanned on their phone. In addition, the app also provides recommendations on where to shop, eat, and stay based on businesses that offer Alipay, giving a significant edge to brands that decide to sign on in reaching the coveted Chinese tourist shopper.