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

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,”
Video of mother kicking 3-year-old fuels outcry against child modeling
Online clothing vendors in China have pledged better protection for child models after footage emerged of a mother kicking her three-year-old model daughter at a photo shoot. In a video circulating online, the little girl, identified by her nickname Niu Niu, is seen getting kicked on the rear by her mother, who loudly orders her to pick up a bag on the floor. Corporal punishment is commonplace in many parts of China, but the practice of beating discipline into children is facing increasing criticism from younger parents. And the video of Niu Niu triggered a wave of condemnation on China’s Twitter-like Weibo. Internet users have questioned if the country’s booming child modeling industry has
Chinese consumers warned of electric shock risk from toilet seats
It’s the last place you’d want to receive an electric shock. But a recent inspection by Shanghai authorities found that nearly 40% of the so-called smart toilet seats sold on China’s shopping sites were faulty. Smart toilet seats, which come with functions including heated surfaces, warm water rinsing and air drying, are popular among China’s middle class. And while in the past consumers had to travel to Japan to buy the inventions, these products are now widely available in Chinese malls and on e-commerce platforms. But when the Shanghai Market Supervision Administration checked the quality of the toilet seats sold online, they found 11 of the 28 samples tested to be substandard, according
How an anti-Valentines’ Day became a shoppers’ paradise
Singles’ Day has become a force of nature in China. It is the single biggest shopping day in the world in terms of sales. Millions of orders are made in a single day. Last year, e-commerce giant Alibaba smashed its all-time Singles’ Day sales record with $25.3 billion in sales. (By comparison, American shoppers spent $5 billion on Black Friday last year.) And the Singles’ Day is predicted to be even bigger this year. Inkstone is owned by Alibaba. But this Black Friday on steroids was not always about money. It actually started as an anti-Valentine’s holiday, created in 1993 for people to celebrate singlehood. In 2009, Alibaba turned Singles’ Day into a shopping festival. Now other e-commerce
Tap here to buy the world’s most trafficked mammal
One of China's top online shopping sites has a problem with an endangered scaly mammal. At least a dozen online stores on Pinduoduo, the third-largest Chinese e-commerce platform, have been found to be selling scales from the pangolin, the world’s most trafficked mammal. Sales of raw pangolin scales, which are said in traditional Chinese medicine to reduce swelling and increase lactation and blood circulation, have been banned by China’s State Forestry Administration since 2007, except at designated hospitals and approved pharmaceutical companies. But the South China Morning Post found that the scales of this endangered creature were available on the e-commerce site under the commonly used n
This e-shopping site wants to be the Costco (and Disneyland) of China
Online shopping site Pinduoduo has become the latest Chinese tech firm to launch its IPO. The group-buying platform, which will begin trading on the Nasdaq on Thursday, is set to raise $1.63 billion, making it the second-largest Chinese IPO in the US this year, according to Reuters. It sounds bizarre, but Pinduoduo has vowed in its IPO documents to become a combination of Costco and Disneyland, offering bargains and entertainment alike to its users. Here’s what you need to know about the Chinese e-commerce site. 1. How do you say Pinduoduo? It's pronounced “Pin Dwor Dwor.” In Chinese, “pin” means combine, while “duo” means more. Repeating the “duo” character gives the name a whimsical, appro
How a quest for soy sauce created a multimillion-dollar online business in the US
When Alex Zhou first moved from the Chinese port city of Dalian to study at Kansas State University, he never imagined that getting his hands on soy sauce would entail a two-hour drive. To Zhou, chief executive of US-based e-commerce site Yamibuy, the college town of Manhattan, Kansas, seemed to be “in the middle of nowhere,” with almost no Asian supermarkets or restaurants serving authentic Chinese dishes. Even the internet failed him. He found the Asian foods available on Amazon to be limited, and what little there was catered more to the tastes of Americans than to Asians. I had friends who would drive hours every weekend to have authentic dim sum in a Chinese restaurant Alex Zhou, CEO, Y