Taobao, known as China’s eBay, is the largest e-commerce platform in China operated by the Alibaba Group. Founded in 2003, Taobao encourages consumer-to-consumer retail and mainly caters to buyers in mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan.
Taobao making 48,000 sales per minute
Taobao, which operates the country's largest internet retail portal, sold an average 48,000 items per minute last year as more consumers in inland provinces shopped online.
The Hangzhou company, which counts more than 370 million users and hosts about 3.65 million online stores, said its average number of transactions per user grew 35 per cent on the year.
'Consumers all over China, even in the most remote inland areas, have access to the more than 800 million product listings on Taobao and they are taking advantage of this medium to meet an increasingly greater proportion of their shopping needs,' Jonathan Lu Zhaoxi, the chief executive of Taobao, said at the company's inaugural data-sharing event in Beijing last night.
Of the 48,000 items sold every minute last year, 864 pieces were clothing, 880 cosmetic products, 85 books, 53 diapers, 36 mobile telephones and 13 light fixtures.
Online sales of home furnishings and food - normally thought of as offline purchases - also rose strongly last year, by 120 per cent and 95 per cent, respectively.
There was also strong growth in demand for branded goods as sales volume on Taobao Mall - the online shopping service's dedicated business-to-consumer platform - quadrupled.
Privately held Taobao, which is the other flagship company of internet conglomerate Alibaba Group after Hong Kong-listed Alibaba.com, declined to provide last year's gross merchandise value (GMV) - the total worth of the goods sold across the e-commerce service. That figure reached 200 billion yuan (HK$234.6 billion) in 2009.
While large coastal cities and provinces continued to record the highest GMV totals, provinces in the central and western regions saw the biggest annual growth, according to Taobao.
Zhejiang, for example, showed the biggest gain of 52 per cent, and was followed by Shandong and Hubei, which grew 46 per cent and 37 per cent, respectively.
The top 10 areas with the highest GMV totals were, in descending order: Guangdong, Zhejiang, Shanghai, Jiangsu, Beijing, Shandong, Fujian, Sichuan, Liaoning and Hubei.
'E-commerce has brought about changes in people's lifestyles and eliminated the boundaries of traditional distribution channels,' Lu said.
That appetite for online shopping was also helped by a fast-growing internet population. There were 450 million internet users at the end of November, up from 384 million in 2009.
Shopping through the mobile phone also showed significant growth for Taobao, which recorded about 17 million visitors daily. It said the Yangtze River Delta had the highest concentration of mobile retail users, accounting for 15 per cent of the firm's mobile shopping accounts. About 75 per cent of the account holders are aged between 19 and 28.
The top 10 best-selling items in this sector were, in descending order: mobile-phone credit, women's clothing, consumer electronics, men's clothing, gaming cards, skincare products, snacks and other dry food items, sports shoes and bags, car accessories, and books and magazines.