China is a mobile-first country and the popularity of smartphones has also reflected one of its most vibrant internet industries: online shopping. China-based analysis firm Jiguang Data has published a new research report on the most popular e-commerce in 2017 charting the biggest players in the field. The report includes seven categories for online shopping apps, including comprehensive platforms, mother and baby goods, fresh produce, cross-border platforms, second-hand goods, and group buying.

Here are some of the highlights of Jiguang’s 2017 Online Shopping Apps Market Research Report.

1. Online retail in China has skyrocketed and apps are part of their success

Financing status of China’s biggest online shopping platforms (Image credit: Jiguang Data)

In 2017, online retail volume in China amounted to RMB 7.18 trillion, accounting for 19.6% of the total retail sales of consumer goods in the country. The reason behind these numbers is mobile payments which have experienced an unprecedented growth, as well as improved logistics both in China and abroad.

According to numbers gathered during the last week of 2017, e-commerce apps had a 69.9% penetration rate compared to 63.5% the previous year. E-commerce apps now cover a massive 713 million users.

2. Online shopping is a proxy battle between China’s top two tech giants

Online shopping platforms, Alibaba’s ecosystem (orange) vs. Tencent’s (green) (Image credit: Jiguang Data)

Most e-commerce platforms are backed by two main financers Alibaba and Tencent. Besides Taobao, China’s most popular shopping platform, Alibaba is behind Tmall and Suning, while Tencent is backing JD,, and Pinduoduo.

The penetration rate of Taobao’s app reached 53.3%, while second place went to JD’s app with a 20.6% penetration rate. The biggest surprise was group buying app Pinduoduo that saw it’s penetration rate jump 19.4% during last year.

Mobile apps for Taobao, JD, and broke the 1 billion mark for monthly active users (MAU) in December 2017.

3. Online shopping users are young and they love Double 11

Average increase of new users for the most popular online shopping apps. The Double 11 festival brought a spike in new users (Image credit: Jiguang Data)

The main force of the industry are shoppers aged 16 to 35 who account for 85.5% of online shopping. Most users (47.6%) only install one comprehensive e-commerce app and use it 1.54 times a day on average.

During the last six months of 2017, Taobao added 3.28 million new users, Pinduoduo added 1.78 million users, while JD managed to attract 1.78 million. A notable spike was seen during Double 11, China’s biggest online shopping festival.

Favorite apps among online shopping app users were Taobao, payment service Alipay, and O2O platform Meituan.

Masha Borak is a technology reporter based in Beijing. Write to her at masha.borak [at] Pitches with the word "disruptive" will be ignored. Read a good book - learn some more adjectives.

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