Chinese internet companies
An internet with Chinese characteristics
Online business in China is growing even faster than the offline sort. Local tastes and needs, as well as the state, are endowing it with distinctive features
Jul 30th 2011 | HANGZHOU | from the print edition
WHEN Huang Bing graduated from university in 2005, he promised himself he would make his first 1m yuan (about $155,000) within three years. It took him a bit longer, but no matter: if his business, a collection of online cosmetics stores, maintains its current trajectory, he will soon count his first billion. In a few years he expects annual revenues to reach 10 billion yuan.
Mr Huang’s company, United Cosmetics International, is only one of thousands on Taobao Mall, a huge online shopping centre. He spotted a demand from women in China’s hinterland for branded cosmetics—and advice on how to use them. “A lot of women in rural areas don’t have access to quality products,” he explains, guiding visitors through the firm’s headquarters in the outskirts of Hangzhou, two hours’ drive south-west of Shanghai. On several floors, at desk after desk, “beauty consultants” busily type answers for customers.
大型網上交易中心“淘寶商城”入駐企業成千上萬，黃冰的“聯合化妝品國際公司”（United Cosmetics International）僅是其中之一。他看準了中國內地女性熱衷名牌化妝品、渴望了解其使用方法的需求。“許多身處偏僻地區的女性沒法接觸到優質化妝品”，他一邊領著來賓參觀公司總部，一邊解釋道。其總部位于杭州郊區，距上海西南部兩小時車程。幾層樓上，桌子一張挨著一張，“美容顧問”忙著敲打電腦鍵盤，在線為顧客解疑答惑。
As goes United Cosmetics, so goes the Chinese internet. It is growing by leaps and bounds (see chart 1), as ever more people log on from phones, homes or offices, or in huge internet cafés (pictured). The China Internet Network Information Centre reckons that the online population, already the world’s biggest, has risen by 6% to 485m this year. And almost two-thirds of people are not yet online.