China's Online Trade Secrets Should Serve as a Lesson to the World
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Talks of trade wars with the US aside, China's economy made a brisk start to 2018 with Q1 results hitting 6.8% according to official government statistics. The uptick in GDP comes at a time when global economies are still struggling to post any sort of significant numbers. In the US, the Commerce Department's preliminary report at the start of 2018 showed a 2.3% growth rate, while the UK's National Institute for Economic and Social Research (NIESR) showed a 0.2% improvement. Despite a myriad of complex factors influencing economies around the world, China appears to be thriving in a number of areas.
China's $1 Trillion Industry
One industry that's continued to prove successful, despite its somewhat insulated nature, is e-commerce. In 2017, web sales improved by 32% to surpass the $1 trillion mark for the first time. In comparison, estimates suggest that US e-commerce grew by just 15% to $455 billion. What's more remarkable about China's booming online retail sector is that it's grown almost independently from the rest of the world. Retailer Amazon may be the biggest brand in the west, but its user base in China is relatively small. According to BI Intelligence data, Amazon's market share in 2016 was just 1.3%, which was down from 2% in 2011. In contrast, Alibaba has 47% of the Chinese market and is now expanding into other regions.
In essence, online businesses in China appear to be outstripping their western counterparts. The upshot of this is a thriving virtual economy, which, in turn, is contributing to the country's overall wealth. If that's the case, what lessons can be learned from Chinese websites? In 2016, a CDNetworks paper contended that European websites don't meet Chinese standards when it comes to reliability and accessibility. From the data collected, 60% of Chinese consumers said that they avoid non-Chinese websites because they take too long to load. With an average load time of 33.1 seconds, European sites take, on average, seven times longer than their Chinese counterparts. Bundled in with this are issues of reliability. Avoiding downtime at all costs is something all Chinese websites are hot on.
Efficiency is the Key to Success for Economic Success
Achieving the "holy grail" of 99.999% uptime is only possible with fault tolerance provisions in place. Being able to create a fault-tolerant system that shifts traffic from point-to-point to ensure an uninterrupted service is crucial for Chinese retailers. While these provisions aren't exclusive to the Chinese market, they are used more effectively. In order to cope with the demands of the average consumer, load balancing provisions have become a standard and this, in turn, has built a robust online economy. Given the unrelenting growth of the internet, online industries are bound to become a much more significant contributor to global economies in the coming decades.
In this light, China is certainly leading the way. For countries such as the UK that are currently struggling with GDP growth, Chinese e-commerce should not only serve as a beacon of hope but as a lesson. By embracing technology and using it to meet the demands of a global audience, even the smallest countries could see an upturn in their fortunes, just as China has in recent years.