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A glimpse of China’s midyear online shopping spree

Updated: Jun 19,2017 9:17 AM     Xinhua

BEIJING — Chinese internet users splurged on the midyear online shopping spree on June 18.

While November 11, or Single’s Day, is the largest online shopping festival in China created by Alibaba’s Tmall, June 18 (“6/18”) shopping festival was launched by JD.com, Tmall’s arch rival.

Other companies soon jumped on the bandwagon and began to offer special offers to get more customers.

On June 18, JD.com reported its first hour sales more than doubled from the same period last year. Tmall pocketed over 100 million yuan ($14.71 million) seven minutes after its opening. Another Chinese e-commerce heavyweight Suning.com saw its orders more than quadrupled from a year ago.

According to iResearch, a Beijing-based consultancy, while demand is high, Chinese consumers tend to be rational by caring more about quality instead of price.

The top five items on the shopping list of JD.com consumers are cell phone, air conditioner, flat panel computer, laptop and baby formula. Consumers are more selective in quality.

Kaola.com, a cross-border e-commerce platform, found consumers are becoming more critical in selecting big names, but were less interested in popular best-sellers.

Cao Lei, director of China E-Commerce Research Center, said with consumer upgrade going on in China, e-commerce market has shifted from “price war” to responding to the demands of the affluent and sophisticated middle class.

Putting all those purchases into consumers’ hands is a huge task.

To make fresh food reach consumers in the shortest period of time possible, Tmall’s cold chain service is operating around the clock. Its daily delivery of fresh food totals near 500 tons.

By using smart warehouse, it takes only three minutes to move a parcel out of the depot through automated assembly lines.

E-commerce platforms are using drones to make speedy deliveries. At this year’s “6/18” shopping festival, Suning.com is using drones to get packages directly to shoppers in rural villages.

JD.com uses augmented reality and virtual reality to offer interactive shopping experiences and also employs robots, driverless cars and drones for deliveries.

Xu Lei, JD Group’s chief marketing officer, said retail sales will be driven by changing consumer habits and technology upgrades.

The mega-spending spree came as China’s economy is slowing down as the world’s second largest economy is transitioning from dependence on export and investment to consumer spending.

Growth of the property development investment slowed in May for the first time since November, but retail sales grew 10.7 percent year on year in May boosted by strong online sales, signaling continued consumption strength.

China is the world’s largest online shopping market, with about 467 million online consumers spending about 26.1 trillion yuan last year, up 19.8 percent year on year.

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