The American giant Microsoft is sharpening its focus on e-commerce in China, with the opening yesterday of its flagship mainland online store on Alibaba Group's Tmall.com 
Microsoft, the world's largest software company, has expanded its product offering to include its own Surface media tablet and Windows-based personal computers and smartphones from brand-name manufacturers.
Kevin Eagan, the vice-president of e-commerce for Microsoft Retail Stores, said: "Microsoft sees great potential in China's e-commerce market."
Microsoft has set up a dedicated team on the mainland to oversee offers and promotions based on local consumer needs and preferences. Initially, more than 50 software and hardware products, including related technical support services, will be available at its flagship store on Tmall.com  The established online store on Tmall.com  that offers computer accessories such as keyboards through Microsoft resellers will continue to operate.
Tmall.com's  president, Daniel Zhang, said: "Chinese consumers' appetite for brand-name, quality products is surging and they are increasingly making purchase decisions based on experience, value, and service quality."
Zhang said he expected the collaboration with Microsoft, which has long relied on traditional retail sales, would "further streamline the divide between offline and online retail offering". He said: "We look forward to engaging in an even deeper strategic co-operation model with Microsoft."
Tmall.com  launched in April 2008, is the leading business-to-consumer e-commerce platform on the mainland, with more than 70,000 major multinational and Chinese brands offered by more than 50,000 online merchants.
JP Morgan has estimated that the gross merchandise value of the mainland's online shopping market will be US$436 billion by 2015, accounting for 8.5 per cent of total retail sales. That expansion will be aided by the mainland's fast-growing online population, which swelled to 538 million at the end of June. This number is expected to reach 800 million by 2015.
The global consultancy firm Bain & Company has predicted that mainland China will overtake the United States as the world's biggest e-commerce market this year.