News / Asia

China Looks for Online Bargains as Consumer Prices Rise

Chinese staff members look at the Taobao online shopping website at a five-story showroom launched by China's e-commerce giant Taobao in Beijing, China (File Photo)
Chinese staff members look at the Taobao online shopping website at a five-story showroom launched by China's e-commerce giant Taobao in Beijing, China (File Photo)
William Ide

Earlier this week, when China released its economic figures for July, the average cost of goods - or Consumer Price Index - was up 6.5 percent, its biggest increase in three years. Leading the way was an increase in food prices, including a spike in the cost of pork.  One of the ways Chinese consumers are coping with the pinch from inflation is by turning to the Internet and shopping in groups.

Group on

From deals on vacations, to hotels, restaurants, food and theatrical performances, group-buying websites in China are offering a dizzying array of deals for web-savvy consumers.

And, the competition online is intense. According to a recent report by Technode.com, an online blog that focuses on tech news and opinions in China, there are more than 1,000 online group buying websites in China.

Wu Bo, the CEO of Lashou, one of China's leading group-buying websites, says the market is developing fast in China and still has room to grow.

“Group buying fits very well with Chinese people's habits, said Wu Bo. "They are very keen on saving money, and are also sharp consumers. And also because of the development of the Internet, it is possible to find a lot of cheap and reliable products on the Internet.”

Coupons

Each day, most group buying websites post batches of coupons from online merchants that offer customers a discount once a set number of people sign up to participate in the deal.

The front page of Lashou's website on Thursday included deals on a dinner buffet and spa at a Beijing hotel, tickets to a marine park in Shanghai and cosmetics.

Most offers advertise at least a 50 percent discount.

Dataotuan.com, a website that analyzes China's massive daily deal community, says Lashou is leading China's group buying market in terms of revenue.

CEO Wu Bo says Lashou went online in March of last year and is now in 180 cities in China, employing more than 6,000 people.

“We often joke with one another and say we can control the Consumer Price Index because our discounts are comparatively lower, and from the consumers' perspective we offer good service and they spend less money.”

In a report on group-buying sales released late last month, tuan800.com said China saw more than $100 million in sales during the first half of the year. And that was just for 17 major group buying sites.  Tuan800.com has previously said it expects group buying sales to reach $2.5 billion this year.

Gaining popularity

Zuo Xuan, a 30-year old woman who frequently shops online and has been using group buying sites for several years now, says there is a connection between the rising cost of goods in China and the popularity of online buying.

“I think that with inflation rising group buying became more popular. There definitely is a link there. But I don't think that inflation is the only reason for group-buying's success,” said Zuo.

She says that one of the reasons why group-buying has become so popular with her and others, is because of the boom in online buying that China has already experienced.

“People got used to buying things online and then slowly they turned to group-buying because it's even cheaper,” she said.

However, she says that cheaper and better goods do not always go hand in hand. As prices go down, Zuo Xuan adds, the quality of goods is an increasing concern, and is something she pays close attention to when she shops online.

Penny pinchers

Advice about how to save money is abundant online in China.

One website, Macaoyuan, features a popular posting named 30 Money Saving Tricks, which is geared towards what it calls smart penny pinching women in Shanghai.

Some of its money saving tips include shopping after 9:00 p.m. - a time when it says many supermarkets discount salads, cooked foods, pastries and fruit. When traveling, it recommends staying in university guest houses, which can be cheaper than economy hotels.

Not everyone thinks group-buying and shopping online is the best way to save money.

Tom Shi, who works in the computer industry and is an avid Internet user, says he would rather put his money in stocks. He says few of his friends are frequent users of group-buying websites.

“Perhaps it's because group-buying's influence is just not deep enough yet and its advertising hasn't been dynamic enough to reach those around me,” he said.

However, Shi says some products could pique his interest in group-buying. He says that if computers and other electronics were being sold with big discounts, he would consider group-buying for that.

You May Like

Koreas Mark 61st Anniversary of War Armistice

Muted observances on both sides of heavily-armed Demilitarized Zone that separates two decades-long enemies More

Judge Declares Washington DC Ban on Public Handguns Unconstitutional

Ruling overturns capital city's prohibition on carrying guns in public More

Pricey Hepatitis C Drug Draws Criticism

Activists are using the International AIDS Conference to criticize drug companies for charging high prices for life-saving therapies More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Students in Business for Themselvesi
X
Mike O'Sullivan
July 26, 2014 11:04 AM
They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid