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)

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

Unpaid Kurdish Fighters Sign of Economic Woes

Sharp cuts in Kurdistan's budget by Baghdad, falling oil revenue, coping with refugees, inflated public sector have hit regional economy hard More

Koreas Exchange List of Envoys for Family Reunion Talks

Officials will discuss date, venue and number of participants for reunion; Seoul hopes to hold event late this month More

China Targets 197 in Online Speech Crackdown

Nearly 200 punished for 'spreading rumors' online in ongoing crackdown on free speech 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.
Calais School Offers Another Face of Europe’s Migrant Crisisi
X
Lisa Bryant
September 02, 2015 6:19 PM
Europe is facing mounting criticism over how it’s handling its biggest migration crisis since World War II. But not all Europeans believe building walls or passing repressive policies are the answer. A school for migrants in the French port city of Calais, is opening doors and building bonds across nationalities. VOA's Lisa Bryant reports.
Video

Video Calais School Offers Another Face of Europe’s Migrant Crisis

Europe is facing mounting criticism over how it’s handling its biggest migration crisis since World War II. But not all Europeans believe building walls or passing repressive policies are the answer. A school for migrants in the French port city of Calais, is opening doors and building bonds across nationalities. VOA's Lisa Bryant reports.
Video

Video Russia-Japan Relations Cool as Putin Visits China for WWII Anniversary

Russian President Vladimir Putin is in Beijing for commemorations of the 70th anniversary of China's WWII victory over Japan. Putin is expected to visit Japan later this year, but tensions between Tokyo and Moscow over islands disputed since the war, and sanctions over Ukraine, could pour cold water on the plan. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Kurdish Fighters on IS Frontline Ready for Offensive

Finger on the trigger, the Kurdish Peshmerga soldier stared across the dust at a village taken over by Islamic State extremists. The Kurdistan’s Khazir frontline, just 45 minutes from the Islamic State stronghold of Mosul. And at this point, the militants were less than two kilometers away. VOA's Sharon Behn reports.
Video

Video Yemen ‘on Brink of Disaster’ as Medical Shortages Soar

Aid agencies warn Yemen is on the brink of humanitarian disaster – with up to half a million children facing severe malnutrition, and hospitals running out of basic medicines. There are fears Yemen's civil war could escalate as the coalition led by Saudi Arabia tries to drive back Houthi rebels, who seized control of much of the country earlier this year. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Apps Helping Kenyan Businesses Stay Ahead of Counterfeiters

Counterfeit goods in Kenya cost the government as much as $1 billion each year in lost tax revenues. The fake goods also hurt entrepreneurs who find it hard to carve out a niche in the market and retain customers. But as Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi, information technology is being used to try to beat the problem.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.

VOA Blogs