Major sportswear brands and online shopping platforms top the rankings in a new survey of consumers' favourite retailers on the mainland.
Nike, Adidas and Li Ning received the top three rankings in this year's Retail Proposition Index study conducted by OC&C Strategy Consultants, an international management consulting company.
Closely behind was fourth-ranked Taobao, which comprises online retail services giants TMall, a business-to-consumer e-commerce platform, and consumer-to-consumer operation Taobao Marketplace under one brand.
The three other e-commerce enterprises in the top 10 were sixth-ranked Amazon China; consumer electronics specialist 360buy.com at No 9; and 10th-placed Vancl.com, the mainland's biggest online apparel merchant.
'Scale is a key to success in China, and all of these retail champions are considered large national players,' said Chan Wai-chan, a partner at OC&C Strategy Consultants Greater China.
Having a broad penetration allowed retailers to meet consumer demand in both the developed and emerging markets in the world's second-biggest economy. Global professional services firm PricewaterhouseCoopers has forecast total retail sales on the mainland will reach US$4.6 trillion by 2014.
In its latest retail study, OC&C surveyed more than 2,500 consumers across the mainland, including shoppers in major metropolitan areas like Beijing and Shanghai, and smaller, tier-2 and tier-3 cities. 'We collated more than 18,000 consumer ratings on 49 retailers in five categories: grocery, sportswear, apparel, health and beauty, and electronics,' said Chan.
Nike and Adidas secured the highest ratings - of 83.7 per cent and 83.5 per cent, respectively - because they had 'continuously invested in their brands, the look and feel of their stores, and their fashionable lines', Chan added.
Local sportswear brand Li Ning, in which United States-based private-equity fund TPG Capital is a major investor, managed to generate a high rating of 78.6 per cent in the survey despite a steady decline in sales due to rising domestic competition.
The Beijing-based company's mainland rivals include Anta Sports, Xtep International and 361 Degrees International.
With a combined 78.5 rating, Taobao Marketplace and TMall represent the fast-growing share of e-commerce players in the mainland's retail market, Chan said.
The total revenue of the Taobao retail platforms is forecast to reach one trillion yuan (HK$1.21 trillion) this year, according to estimates by parent company Alibaba Group. About 98 per cent of sales made on TMall - which has more than 50,000 online merchants - and Taobao Marketplace - with more than 370 million registered users - are to consumers on the mainland and in Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan.
Hangzhou-based Alibaba, controlled by mainland entrepreneur Jack Ma Yun, successfully privatised subsidiary Alibaba.com - the world's largest business-to-business e-commerce services provider - through a HK$19.6 billion buyout in May. The unit was delisted from the Hong Kong stock exchange last month.
Chan described 360buy.com, with a 75.5 per cent rating, as 'the biggest online retailer of electronics products' on the mainland. It posted sales of 30 billion yuan last year, from 10 billion yuan in 2010.
Apparel merchant Vancl.com received the same rating but has not relied solely on its own e-commerce platform to generate sales. The company said 50 per cent of its annual global sales have come from eBay, while local distribution was expanded when it set up an online store on TMall last year.
The other top 10 favourite retailers in the survey were Taiwanese supermarket chain RT-Mart at No5, Hutchison Whampoa health and beauty chain Watsons at No 7 and Wal-Mart Stores at No 8.
The number of e-commerce companies that figure in the top 10