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U.S., China Differ in E-Commerce Tastes

Study reveals consumers' distinct preferences for Web design, product presentation.

A recent study indicates U.S. and Chinese consumers both appreciate good organization and visual appeal in e-commerce Web design, but the similarities stop there.

The study, released by Acquity Group, was designed to determine how each country’s e-commerce pages function and how consumers respond to them. The goal of the study is for sellers on both sides of the globe to learn how to effectively expand their online sales into foreign markets.

Analysis of respondents’ reactions to each site indicates that Americans put more faith in customer reviews and image appeal, while Chinese consumers rely heavily on what they can research and see for themselves.

China’s Gross Domestic Product and its middle class are expected to grow exponentially in the next several decades, requiring U.S. marketers to consider new ways to merchandise a site and display product information, the study reports.

To conduct the study, two artificial sites were designed for the same store, each one constructed according to typical sites found in the U.S. and China. Chinese home pages tend to be several pages long, packed with attention-grabbing images, while U.S. home pages are generally more simple and clean.

“The survey results make it clear that marketers in both the U.S. and China have plenty to learn from each other”

American respondents were more favorable to the U.S.-style home page, appreciating the ease of use, organization, length and uncluttered, visual appeal. They found the Chinese style to be too dense, giving off a bargain-basement feel. Chinese respondents to the study often liked the U.S. home page for its organization and appeal, but still preferred the Chinese home page because of its easy access to the information.

Product pages on the U.S. version displayed two images of the product, option choices (such as color and size for clothing), a few lines of descriptions and a list of customer reviews. Chinese-version product pages included multiple images of the product detailing craftsmanship and quality, detailed product and shipping descriptions, and full disclosure on customer services.

When American respondents moved to the product page, their reactions to both versions were nearly equal. Americans seemed to prefer the organization and detailed images on the Chinese version, but wanted shorter descriptions and detail, the report states.

Chinese respondents indicated a much higher preference for Chinese-version product pages, revealing an appreciation for detailed information and visual appeal. The report states that Chinese consumers expect to thoroughly research a product and need to feel they can trust the quality and reliability of a seller before making a purchase. Chinese shoppers are used to bazaar-like local markets, and also need to know what the packaging and shipping expectations are.

“The survey results make it clear that marketers in both the U.S. and China have plenty to learn from each other—both in terms of domestic website design, and in terms of what they can expect as they plan digital assaults on each other’s markets,” the report states.

About the author

Sarah Brown
Sarah Brown is a freelance writer who writes about e-commerce and small businesses. She recently graduated from Chico State with a journalism degree and is also a budding online entrepreneur, having launched two Web businesses and her own line of handmade products. Opinions expressed here may not be shared by The Online Seller and/or its principals.

  • Mocksock

    Amazing-the Americans like the American page and the Chinese like the Chinese page!!

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