While some elements of European or American society might shy away from the idea of bartering for products that are already so incredibly cheap, this kind of negotiating is something that some Eastern cultures are very comfortable with.
And Taobao providing this bargaining facility demonstrates the platform’s willingness to cater for differing human and cultural behaviours.
Will it catch on in the West? Will Amazon provide similar tools? Perhaps.
What it does show is how ‘one size definitely doesn’t fit all’. And that there are always ways to improve UX and the online shopping experiences to reflect geographical, group or individual demands or behaviours.
Not just price – Chinese people love the variety
Variety of choice (or assortment) is – along with price; the ability to shop anywhere, anytime; convenience; and personalisation – one of the five key drivers of the massive popularity of online shopping globally.
And, in China, consumers can use a platform like Taobao to buy almost anything.
Not just in terms of products, but also people offering services like house cleaning, massages and pretty much anything else you can think of (including teammates for online gaming – a concept that a Generation X-er might think ludicrous, but which a Chinese or even Western Millennial is totally cool with).
China’s online shopping culture driving the wider economy
It might be tempting to think ‘labour exploitation’ when you hear how cheap products (or services) on Chinese eCommerce platforms can be and that almost all purchases come with free shipping.
But don’t be so quick to jump to such conclusions.
The sheer volume of transactions racing through platforms like Taobao (and do remember the gargantuan size of rivals like JD.com and the challenger Pinduoduo) fuels a healthy economy of its own in which couriers can earn more than many white collar workers.
The near-limitless quantity of items being purchased online means that the cost of single shipment is incredibly low (with most deliveries taking place within two days).
For instance, Chinese people were so spellbound by last year’s Singles’ Day festival of jaw-dropping consumer online spending – which exceeded a mind-boggling $38 billion USD – that high-speed rail was contracted to keep up with the demand for express deliveries of consumer products.
Chinese eCommerce going from strength-to-strength
Grocery platform Meituan Dianping, Alibaba and JD.com have all reported strong earnings for the second quarter of 2020.
Disruptive social shopping platform Pinduoduo is valued at $114bn – higher even that global banking giant HSBC.
Both Alibaba and JD.com are making huge investments in their logistics capabilities to fulfil the goal of delivering packages to anywhere in China within 24 hours, and anywhere in the world within 72.
Consumers in China are absolutely mesmerised by livestreaming and the thrilling online shopping experience it provides.
And a whole set of new Chinese eCommerce innovations are on the horizon.
For instance, consumers are expected to place more trust in Key Opinion Consumers (KOCs) – average consumers that create videos and posts to share their own product reviews and recommendations – than they do celebrity KOLs, because they think of them as being more authentic advocates. And ‘Recommerce’ – the buying and selling of previously owned goods – is also set to become increasingly popular.
The point is that China has been enjoying a meteoric rise for years that shows no signs of losing velocity.