1County-level cities eclipsed first- and second-tier cities to become a major development momentum for the online purchasing sector, according to the Online Purchasing Development Report on County-level Cities released by Taobao.com (in Chinese).

The research covers 2006 third-tier administrative regions and the data were contributed by Taobao and the National Bureau of Statistics.

More than 30 million users in the surveyed regions shopped on Taobao platform in 2012 with a total turnover of 179 billion yuan. Yiwu, a small city in Zhejiang Province known as an export trading center, hit the No.1 spot among peers that spent a total of 3.40 billion yuan on Taobao, the report added.

Users in developed areas around Zhejiang Province, Guangdong Province and Beijing were more active purchasing goods thanks to the advanced economic level, matured logistics system and high Internet penetration rate.

The ratio between male and females customers is 52:48 in county-level cities, while that for first-tier cities is 49:51. Most of the customers in the researched areas are youth between 25 and 34 years old, which is consistent with the national level.

Online purchasing boasts advantages over bricks-and-mortar stores in terms of product categories and prices, triggering the consumption potentials of citizens in county-level cities.

With the popularity of Internet and logistics infrastructures, county-level cities will boom in terms of online retailing, according to the report.