• A Chinese woman uses her tablet to shop online.

A Chinese woman uses her tablet to shop online. (Photo : Getty Images)

China's consumer indicators, according to Bloomberg, are becoming easier to predict through the use of big data from the country's e-commerce companies. The data include mostly indexes from online purchases, and give a lot of information on how current businesses keep up with their sales and how it will shape the future of China's economy.

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James Huang, an analytics director for a finance unit based in Beijing, states that about 11 percent of the total consumption of China is accounted to e-commerce.

Jack Ma, the executive chairman of Alibaba Group, one of the top e-commerce companies in China, reported that about $17.88 billion of online transactions happened on their biggest sale day, the 11/11 Global Shopping Festival.

China's total online retail sales grew by about 26 percent compared to the past year, while total retail transactions only accounted for a 10-percent increase. Due to this growth, it is estimated that online consumers will dominate consumption by the year 2020.

JD.com Inc, the second largest e-commerce company in China, has information already available which gives analytics on sales of different types of products, from home appliances to liquor, clothing, etc.

Alibaba Group also has a Consumer Price Index based on their data on online sales and is planning to release more analytics data in the upcoming months.

Most large companies look more into these data than surveys, as the data reflect a huge sample compared to traditional surveys.

Academics are also currently looking for ways to measure the rate of consumption as well as the factors driving it. One example is the Internet-based Consumer Price Index (iCPI), created by researchers from a university in Beijing. Data are gathered real-time from different e-commerce websites and are used to create daily inflation indexes, which helps economists and businesses measure changes and trends.