Well, that’s a lot of booze. Chinese consumers are expected to buy 13 billion RMB - a full $2 billion - in wines, beers, and spirits on the country’s specialist B2C alcohol e-tailers by 2014. That's the same as the GDP of the west African nation of Guinea-Bissau. The estimated figure for the whole of this year online in China is a relatively small 3.7 billion RMB ($584.4 million), indicating this sector is still young and has a lot of room for growth.
Those figures come from Beijing-based Analysys International, who reckons that there’ll be growth of 200 percent from 2011 to the end of this year (see graph below). Afterall, offline channels still account for about 99 percent of booze sales in the nation, so there’s a lot left to shift online.
Indeed, if you break down that $2 billion figure for 2014 by the number of adults of legal drinking age, then each person is only spending about $3 per year online for alcoholic beverages.
This alcohol online sales vertical - perhaps when everyone has drunk too much it becomes a horizontal - covers everyone from China’s top online store, Tmall, to the Walmart-controlled food e-tailer Yihaodian, to very specialist B2C wines and beers sites like Jiumei and Jiuxian. The fact that those latter two startup sites recently wrapped up some major funding - $15.8 million for Jiumei; $32 million for Jiuxian - shows that well-focused e-commerce sites have a good chance of beating the big boys. There are other smaller contenders too, like the VIP sales site TasteV, and the wine-only Moooton.
In terms of what kind of good stuff folks are buying in China, the research firm reckons that 2012 will see a 60:30:10 split between spirits (including Chinese rice wine), red wine, and other booze, respectively.
[Source: Eguan/Analysys International - article in Chinese]