Inside China’s digital wine fortress

Do you know your two micros from your one shake? If not, Janet Wang is here to guide you through China’s digital wine economy.

One of JD.com's unmanned stores
One of JD.com's unmanned stores

More than 600 million Chinese people shopped online in 2018, about 40m of whom have collectively spent Rmb70 billion ($9.79bn) on wine and spirits. Though this is still a small figure relative to the overall size of e-commerce in China – valued at Rmb7 trillion, of which wine makes up a mere Rmb5bn – the growth trend for wine is unmistakable.

The three pillars

Underpinning the vibrancy of China’s digital economy are three essential pillars: payment, logistics and information. As the founder of China’s Wine 100 competition, David Jiang, observes, China’s digital payment system is well established and widely adopted; even street vendors in the remotest places prefer mobile payment to cash. Courier services in China are speedy, with same-day or next-day delivery the norm along the developed eastern coastal areas, where the first-tier cities are located. Inland and western regions are catching up. Then there is the information flow empowered by internet and mobile communication. Chinese wine drinkers also tend to be young, in their 20s to 40s, and have a natural affinity with e-commerce.

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