Bryce Whitwam
Dec 7, 2022

Expect traditional Chinese retail to bounce back in 2023

SHANGHAI ZHAN PODCAST: Kantar Worldpanel Greater China managing director Jason Yu says traditional retailers are beginning to catch up to online with the advantage of a full immersive shopping experience.

Sam's Club. Photo: Shutterstock
Sam's Club. Photo: Shutterstock

“Traditional retailers in China are taking back share thanks to digitisation of their business,” says Kantar Worldpanel’s Jason Yu. “You can’t call it ecommerce anymore, but digital commerce.”

Traditional retailers that have seen the most growth in 2022 have been proximity supermarkets and member clubs. “Stores close to home saw a huge boost in sales because of the Covid lockdowns when people would stock up on basic goods,” says Yu.

According to the recent Kantar Worldpanel quarterly report, Sam’s Club saw a large increase in shopper penetration. “Member clubs are delivering a very differentiated product offering, and consumers are increasingly willing to pay their annual member fees,” says Yu.

Besides Sam’s Club and several local players, Costco is also growing rapidly in China, opening new stores throughout the country. “People love the experience of treasure hunting, especially for private label, imported products. Costco has a lot of growth opportunity in China.”

Besides traditional trade, Yu pointed out that disruption also occurred in the ecommerce channel during 2022, and he expects further changes in 2023. According to the panel report, the big e-commerce winner is Tik Tok’s sister company, Douyin. “According to our research, 962 million people enjoyed on short-videos on platforms like Douyin and Kuaishow,” says Yu, “and we saw one-third of Chinese consumers on these platforms purchasing products online.” 

Yu mentioned that Douyin is increasingly looking more like a Taoabao-style e-commerce platform and expects many of his premium and luxury clients to open stores on Douyin in 2023. “It makes sense that you sell where your consumers are,” says Yu.

Jason Yu’s interview is available on the Shanghai Zhan podcast, a "raw, lively, and regular debate about China tech, advertising, creativity and the intersection of it all", hosted by Ali Kazmi and Bryce Whitwam.

The podcast is now available now on Apple PodcastsSpotifyGoogleStitcherAmazon Music, Xiao Yu Zhou and via RSS.

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