Zhang Qiaoli uses her spare bedroom for storing her stock of ladies' fashion-wear and photo shoots. She is one of more than five million small online stores operating across China, some from small apartments or even college dormitories. She buys dresses and accessories wholesale, at prices under $5; using the website Taobao, she sells them on as the Kitty Lover range for about $10.
Taobao is owned by Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba and the brainchild of founder Jack Ma. It is a free-to-use online marketplace with some 800 million product lines — from food to clothes to technology.
Across China, online companies large and small are learning how to be effective e-commerce players — or fail like US goliath eBay, which was trounced by upstart Taobao back in 2006.
In 2010, China's online shopping industry had a turnover of $80bn, and grew 87% year-on-year.
China's 420 million internet users spend around a billion hours each day online — and last year, 185 million made at least one online purchase. According to Boston Consulting Group, the volume is expected to increase fourfold by 2015.
E-commerce is changing the way Chinese consumers think about shopping: online, it is more social than a hard sell. It's a new engaging experience to savor.
In Chinese retail, trust is a rare commodity. There are plenty of fakes online, and buyers are often cursed by scams or shoddy goods. Still, consumer faith in e-commerce stores is remarkably robust. That's because, apart from its convenience, online shopping has shifted the balance of power from sellers to buyers. Online shopping in China is more than clicking on the "buy" button. The experience includes exchanging tips with other shoppers, discussing trends, and rating both products and service.
The interaction and communication generates trust.
"The ability of social networking combined with e-commerce or social commerce as I like to call it — where people are able to rate their providers, provide information to other purchasers — that level of experience is really overcoming the big weaknesses," says Duncan Clark, Chairman of BDA (China), an expert on China's e-commerce industry.
"Basically, there is a one-to-one connection being established. And that's breaking through the mistrust barrier if you will. So I think we can learn, actually — the West can learn from some of the developments happening in the Chinese e-commerce sector," says Mr Clark.
16. According to the article, how does Zhang Qiaoli make money?
A. She purchases goods at wholesale and sell them online at higher prices.
B. She sells dresses and accessories on Taobao.
C. She buys goods at higher prices and manages to sell large number of them.
D. She makes profits by selling dresses and accessories at retail stores.
17. The word "trounced" in paragraph 3 is closest in meaning to ______.
A. step B. defeat C. lose D. damage
18. According to paragraph 5, how many people is expected to make at least one online purchase in 2015?
A. 740 million. B. 555 million.
C. 370 million. D. 185 million.
19. Why is consumer faith in e-commerce still robust despite the prevalent fake goods online?
A. Because regulations about online shopping will be improved soon.
B. Because there are a lot more options online.
C. Because consumers are gaining more power thanks to online shopping.
D. Because there are still many qualified goods and trustworthy online stores.
20. What is the author's attitude towards e-commerce?
A. Paradoxical. B. Slightly critical.
C. Unbiased. D. Fully supportive.