Following the trends of the millions of like-minded Chinese, is completely fascinated by group buying, which has completely overwhelmed eCommerce in a country where getting the best possible discount is virtually a national pastime.
“Ever since, I’ve gotten in the habit of using it to buy meals every time I go to a restaurant,” she said.
In group buying, websites offer goods or services at a special low price, but on the condition that a minimum number of customers get in on it.
Thanks to the Chinese zeal for a bargain and the country’s huge internet market — its online users are estimated at more than 450-million — practically anything can be bought or sold or here.
On the country’s first site, lashou.com, buyers can purchase DVDs, sweets, beauty creams, hotel rooms, fruits and vegetables, basketball shoes, tablet computers, wedding portraits and a myriad of other offerings.
Each item shows how many buyers must commit for the “great offer” to become a reality. Sometimes all it takes is five or ten people.
In September, taobao.com — China’s answer to eBay — launched its first group-buying offer with a batch of 205 ultra-compact Smart cars at a price of 135,000 yuan, nearly 25 percent off the regular price.
They sold out in just under three and a half hours.
China had 1,880 group-buying sites at the end of 2010, up from 1,215 at the end of August, according to the China E-business Research Centre.
China’s overall e-commerce activity rose 22 percent last year. Growth expectations are nonetheless high, and experts say online consumer spending could double within two years.
With giants like Groupon and Tencent entering the fray, 2011 will be a tough year for smaller sites like lashou.com (China’s first site), jumei.com’s Leo Chen said.
But lashou.com Chief Executive Wu Bo is confident about his company’s home field advantage.
“We do not need to be afraid of Groupon,” Wu said.