From Social Media To Social Commerce: Apps In China Lead Retail Revolution, Says FBIC report


For Immediate Release


Social apps that permit transactions will set standard for the world, says Executive Director Deborah Weinswig in new report

NEW YORK (June 16, 2015) — Increasingly multifunctional social media apps are remaking e-commerce in China, and likely will be a lesson for retailers around the world, says Fung Business Intelligence Centre’s just-released report “When Social Media and E-Commerce Collide: Social Media and Retail in China.”

Just as retailers have adapted to consumers researching purchases and exchanging reviews through social media, programs such as WeChat and Sina Weibo now permit entire transactions to take place online, creating yet another twist that will influence global retail trends, notes Executive Director-Head of Global Retail & Technology Deborah Weinswig in the report.

“Social media is thriving worldwide, and China is leading the way,”Weinswig writes. “Chinese consumers are becoming more sophisticated, their shopping behaviors are evolving and social media is now heavily influencing their purchase decisions. Retailers should keep a close eye on the innovations taking place in China to get a sense of how e-commerce will evolve in the rest of the world.”

China boasted 629 million social media users by the end of 2014, with millennials especially active, the report says. Moreover, communications apps such as WeChat and Sina Weibo offer more functions (including payments) than competitors WhatsApp and Twitter, respectively. The results are that Chinese consumers research products online, make a purchase, and then share their opinions, with social media platforms becoming an additional shopping channel. Retailers are adapting.

“In order to capitalize on the proliferation of social media and the maturing online retail infrastructure, many retailers have established their presence on social platforms, and some are already selling products directly through them,” Weinswig writes. “Social platforms are no longer just social channels-they’re sales channels, a marketplace for social commerce.”

Manufacturers such as smartphone maker Xiaomi use social media as its primary channel to engage with customers, and last year sold 61 million phones. Mogujie, previously similar to Pinterest, now accommodates purchases from the retailers who have set up online boutiques.


Global retailers are adapting as well, the report says. Sephora recently announced that its first and only Chinese flagship store would be located on, an e-commerce marketplace whose parent, Jingdong, is a WeChat partner. More likely will follow.

“Consumers are empowered in the new digital era, and they stay connected and informed via social networks on mobile devices. Retailers should be aware of this paradigm shift and adapt to the changes,” Weinswig says. “While the integration of social media platforms and mobile connectivity is disruptive and challenging, it also provides new opportunities for retailers and brands that can successfully tap into the power of social media.”


The full report can be found at ChinaJune4FINAL.pdf. The group’s reports and analyses can be found at and








The Fung Business Intelligence Centre (FBIC) collects and analyses market data on sourcing, supply chains, distribution and retail. It also provides thought leadership on technology and other key issues shaping their future.

Headquartered in Hong Kong, FBIC leverages unique relationships and information networks to track and report on trends and developments in China and other Asian countries. In addition, its New York-based Global Retail & Technology research team follows broader retail and technology trends, specializing in how they intersect and building collaborative knowledge communities around the revolution occurring worldwide at the retail interface.

Since its establishment in 2000, the FBIC (formerly known as the Li & Fung Research Centre) has served as the knowledge bank and think tank for the Fung Group. Through regular research reports and other publications, it makes its market data, impartial analysis and expertise available to businesses, scholars and governments around the world. It also provides advice and

consultancy services to colleagues and business partners of the Fung Group on issues related to doing business in China, ranging from market entry and company structure, to tax, licensing and other regulatory matters.


CONTACT:   Debra Hazel

Debra Hazel Communications