The mainland's largest retail Web site expects to turn a profit after three years and would like to list in the United States. 8848.net went on line on March 18 last year and now has more than 367,000 registered users nationwide, with 3,000 to 5,000 transactions a day for more than 300,000 products, including consumer goods, books and periodicals, personal computers and other IT products. Peter Pan, vice-president for marketing, said the sales target for this year is 280 million yuan (about HK$262.05 million). He declined to give a breakdown for actual sales, except last November's figure was 12.5 million yuan. 'We are in the development stage,' he said. 'We are spending more on our development than we are earning. It will take three years to make a profit.' Many in the industry are sceptical and say the company cannot survive unless it is able to obtain a large capital infusion, such as through a listing on the Nasdaq. 8848 delivers through the post office or delivery company, for a small delivery fee on purchases worth less than 280 yuan. Mr Pan said about 60 per cent of customers paid cash on delivery, the rest by credit card. He said the company is developing other sources of revenue, including advertising, selling space on its platform and business-to-business commerce. A manager in a Beijing company that invests in Internet start-ups said the profit margin on consumer goods is too low. 'If the price is not lower than in traditional stores, people will not buy it. But, if it is too low, the company cannot make a profit,' he said. 'Also, as a consumer company, it has to spend heavily on advertising. This is not a good business model for China at this stage.' He said 8848, like many other companies, must list or die. The sharp fall of the Nasdaq has delayed the listing aspirations of several mainland Internet firms. Chairman Wang Juntao disagrees, saying profit margins in the mainland retail business are high, allowing a company like his to offer lower prices than traditional stores and still profit.