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)
TEXT SIZE - +
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

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 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.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid