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Shoppers willing to pay for membership programs, a survey finds

Paid membership of online shopping sites are becoming a new trend, with as many as half of all consumers willing to purchase membership services from online retailers.
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Paid memberships for online shopping sites are becoming a new trend, with as many as half of all consumers willing to purchase membership services from online retailers, according to a joint survey by JD.com and Walmart.

Nearly 50 percent of consumers said they're willing to pay 10 to 20 percent more for higher product quality, so paid membership programs have catered to that demand with convenient refund and return policies, according to a recent iResearch survey among 1,000 JD shoppers.

A total of 33 percent of respondents said they don't mind paying higher prices as brand and quality matters more, even though most members went on to say they joined paid loyalty programs to enjoy higher discounts and dedicated service.

"Paid membership programs will become a major boost and important trend in the retail industry," senior iResearch analyst Guo Shimin said.

Walmart's member program, Sam's Club, also opened a flagship store on JD.com to leverage off the online retailer's delivery network.

The US retailer is also extending its partnership with JD.com’s on-demand delivery platform, JD Daojia, after initial cooperation yielded satisfactory results.

In September, the transaction value of Walmart goods purchased through JD Daojia increased 30 times from October last year. At the end of the month Walmart will add another 12 stores to JD Daojia’s delivery network.

JD.com's membership system was launched in October 2015 and sets members back 149 yuan per year, offering benefits such as delivery fee discounts, as well as special prices for selected items.

The majority of paid loyalty program participants live in first and second tier cities.


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