Latest news, analysis and opinion on ecommerce, covering new technology, consumer habits and the growth of digital payment options. 

Alibaba trounces Amazon in the world of high fashion
Amazon is the pre-eminent e-commerce company in the world, and its decades of supremacy in America have turned its founder Jeff Bezos into the world’s richest man.  But despite flirting with high fashion – the giant e-commerce company ran its first fashion advert in 2012 – Amazon clothing has been more “brandless fleece coat” than “embellished high-fashion catwalk.” Luxury fashion, almost uniquely among retail sectors, has been largely untouched by the online giant. Not for much longer – according to Amazon, anyway. In the US last month, the mega platform launched its latest bid for the luxury market with a glossy new designer section. Brands can create their own digital online boutiques wi
Bye-bye Black Friday. Chinese consumers fear overseas package may contain the coronavirus
In any other year Judy Shen would spend thousands of yuan on Amazon during the Black Friday shopping extravaganza but this year she is not buying anything. The Shanghai housewife said she worried that cross border packages might carry the coronavirus after Chinese authorities said recent local infections in the country were linked to cargo brought into China from overseas. “I don’t buy imported food anymore, either. I dare not use or eat things from overseas now,” she said. Shen is one of the 155 million Chinese online shoppers who use cross border e-commerce, known as haitao in China, in the hunt for lower prices and better quality products. Last year, they spent 2.64 trillion yuan (US$400
‘Singles’ Day’ shopping bonanza adds more pressure on delivery workers
As the largest shopping bonanza in the world kicked off on November 11, a small but persistent complaint served as a reminder: Please remember to be kind to the delivery people.  With the State Post Bureau predicting a daily average of 490 million packages will be shipped across China during the sales period, delivery companies are going through a stress test on how to handle the mountains of packages bought by people online.  Alibaba said that it saw an average of 583,000 orders per second on Tmall.com – its largest shopping platform – just 4 seconds after midnight on November 11. Alibaba is the parent company of Inkstone.  The sheer volume of transactions means peak season for delivery wor
Foreigners join China’s live-stream sales army
China’s live-stream retail market is projected to grow to be worth $145 billion in 2020, according to iiMedia Research. The increase has been linked to a surge in online activity during the coronavirus pandemic. But Chinese retailers are eager to expand their businesses beyond the country and are hiring multilingual foreigners living in China to approach customers abroad.  
The wild and wacky things you could buy during Singles’ Day
E-commerce has always been a source for the strange and unusual. A man tried to sell his soul on eBay; someone paid $1,025 for Justin Timberlake’s leftover toast and a shop that sells odd goods attempted to convince people to buy a Chupacabra, a mythical creature that does not exist.  China’s Singles’ Day shopping festival is no exception.  The festival of consumerism is a shopping spree held on November 11 every year and was started by e-commerce giant Alibaba in 2009. It has since become a regional day of sales as brands from across Asia participate in the event.  Alibaba is the owner of Inkstone.  After each festival, many young Chinese would tease each other with an old internet meme, “H
From China with mystery: how unsolicited seed packages fed conspiracy fears
Onion farmer Chris Pawelski of Warwick, New York, was curious in July when he found a package in his postbox that he had not ordered. The shipping label indicated it came from Shenzhen, a technology hub in southern China. It was also printed with “wire connector” in English and “rings” in Chinese. When Pawelski, 53, opened it, he found neither a wire connector nor jewelry, but a tiny plastic bag of mixed seeds. He is one of the thousands of people worldwide who received such seeds in recent months, which have drawn warnings from authorities the US amid speculation that they could be anything from a prank to bioweapons. In response to growing concerns, Amazon in September banned seed sales in
6 differences between Chinese and American shoppers on ‘Black Friday’
The end of the year is a busy time for shoppers in two of the largest consumer markets in the world.  In China, consumers snap up billions of dollars of purchases on what is known as the Singles’ Day festival – effectively the country’s “Black Friday” – every year, feeding a seemingly insatiable appetite for online shopping.  They spent a record-breaking $38.4 billion on Singles’ Day, November 11, this year.  The same month, consumers in the US embarked on the yearly Black Friday shopping frenzy, the day after Thanksgiving. American shoppers have been known to elbow each other and even get into fights in their attempts to grab heavily discounted flat-screen televisions or Xbox gaming console
Shipping from China to get pricier after Trump complained
In what the Trump administration hopes will help American firms compete with Chinese exporters, the US will be allowed to raise the cost of shipping goods from China. Members of a United Nations postal agency, which includes China, struck a deal after two days of emergency talks in Geneva to let the US and other high-volume importers set their own rates for delivering small parcels from foreign countries. Trump threatened last October to quit that agency, the Universal Postal Union, which determines how much the post offices of more than 190 countries can charge each other for the “last mile” delivery of international letters and packages up to 4.4 pounds. The president complained that the U
China’s love for online shopping goes behind bars
Online shopping, ubiquitous in China, is now available behind bars. In the southern megacity of Guangzhou, Conghua Prison has become the first in the country to allow inmates to shop online via touch-screen computer terminals, according to Chinese state media. Once a month, inmates can buy groceries, choosing from more than 200 items and paying normal market prices. The prison houses more than 1,000 inmates. Milk, instant noodles, preserved meat, cigarettes and even Lao Gan Ma — a chili sauce with a Sriracha-like cult following in China — are among the most popular purchases, according to China Daily. When reached by phone, a prison director surnamed Huang, who declined to give his full name
Chinese seller of explicit baby shirt says it was a mistake
An American woman who ordered a shirt online for her three-year-old daughter found a startling addition. Kelsey Dawn Williamson, a mother in Illinois, bought a shirt featuring two frogs riding a bicycle from a Chinese retailer. At least, that’s what she saw in a product photo. But when she received the shirt earlier this month, she was surprised to find three extra words printed beneath the frogs: “FUCK THE POLICE.” “I couldn’t believe, of all the mistakes that could have happened it was that and it happened to me,” Williamson told Inkstone. “I texted my husband, who was at work, to call me ASAP. He FaceTimed and all he could say was ‘oh shit’ before we both started laughing hysterically,”