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.
大型网上交易中心“淘宝商城”入驻企业成千上万，黄冰的“联合化妆品国际公司”（United Cosmetics International）仅是其中之一。他看准了中国内地女性热衷名牌化妆品、渴望了解其使用方法的需求。“许多身处偏僻地区的女性没法接触到优质化妆品”，他一边领着来宾参观公司总部，一边解释道。其总部位于杭州郊区，距上海西南部两小时车程。几层楼上，桌子一张挨着一张，“美容顾问”忙着敲打电脑键盘，在线为顾客解疑答惑。
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.