Wal-Mart, the world’s largest retailer, has decided to open an e-commerce headquarters in Shanghai, China, as a part of its online strategy to gain a larger share of the country’s flourishing retail market. Wal-Mart now follows the lead of U.S. retailers such as Gap and Apple. Wal-Mart’s strategic move took place Monday (June 27), after the U.S. hypermarket operator announced a plan to purchase a minority stake in the major Chinese online retailer Yihaodian.
“The scale of online sales in China is expanding rapidly and is projected to match U.S. online sales in the next few years,” Wan Ling Martello, Wal-Mart’s Executive Vice President of Global e-Commerce said in a statement. “We look forward to offering Chinese consumers a wider selection of quality products at good value with a great online shopping experience.”
The company’s China sales totaled $7.5 billion last year, accounting for just 2% of its $420 billion in global revenue. It operates more than 330 stores in China and had a 5% market share of megastore sales in 2010, while regional chains and mom-and-pop shops accounted for 73%, according to consulting firm Monitor Group.
According to Internet Retailer, “Wal-Mart is following the lead of other U.S. retailers and e-commerce players in investing in China’s fast-growing online retailing arena. There were 161 million online shoppers in China as of December 2010, according to the China Internet Network Information Center, the government-authorized body that maintains the country’s Internet infrastructure. Forrester Research projects that e-commerce sales will reach $159.4 billion by 2015, up from $48.8 billion in 2010.”