Enthusiasm for online shopping in China was vibrant once again during the Singles Day shopping extravaganza, which falls on Nov. 11 each year, as merchants and e-commerce platforms accelerated efforts to launch more tailor-made merchandise and use livestreaming product promotions.
The 24-hour shopping frenzy, which is marking its 11th year as a recognized consumer phenomenon in the country, has become a significant engine of economic growth thanks to the increasing spending power of middle- and high-income shoppers, said industry insiders.
It took just 96 seconds for Alibaba Group, which initiated the shopping carnival in 2009, to net 10 billion yuan ($1.43 billion) worth of gross merchandise volume on Monday just after midnight, faster than last year’s 125 seconds to cross the same threshold.
Transaction volume reached 43.99 billion yuan in the first 10 minutes, and hit 100 billion yuan in one hour, three minutes, 59 seconds. The figure surpassed 213.5 billion yuan — last year’s total sales — by 4:31 pm Monday, and continued to climb through the rest of the day.
Jennifer Ye, PwC China consumer markets leader, said the consultancy expects Singles Day sales to increase moderately this year, and it is noteworthy that brands and e-commerce sites are working together to create an integrated shopping experiences.
They leverage key opinion leader marketing, social media and video platforms to complement offline promotions and drive sales in best-selling categories such as apparel, skin care, cosmetics and home appliances, Ye said.
“A key growth engine of this year’s Singles Day is China’s lower-tier cities, where annual consumption potential is estimated to triple to $6.9 trillion in 2030,” she added.
JD, another e-commerce heavyweight and a latecomer to join the frenzy, reported its accumulated sales from Nov. 1 until 2:37 pm Monday reached a staggering 179.4 billion yuan.
Sales of air conditioners surpassed 100 million yuan within 20 seconds after the clock struck midnight on Monday, and more than 10,000 65-inch televisions were sold within just eight seconds, according to JD.
JD said the consumer-to-manufacturer model which leverages online retailers’ big data and customer analysis capabilities to optimize a brand’s products specifically to meet unique demands of the Chinese market, gained momentum during this year’s shopping festival and drove sales growth of home appliances.
Chinese commercial giant Suning said orders within the first hour on Monday increased 89 percent compared with same period last year, with sales of intelligent digital products skyrocketing 288 percent.
Mo Daiqing, an analyst at China E-Commerce Research Center, said the launch of customized products complies with consumers’ ever-increasing personalized demands.
E-commerce has become a key driver in China’s retail sector. Online retail sales rose 16.8 percent year-on-year to reach 7.32 trillion yuan during the January-September period, according to the Ministry of Commerce.
Nov. 11, and e-commerce in general, is much more than an avenue for selling products. Instead, it is an occasion from which consumer insights can be derived and a place where companies innovate, said Joost Vlaanderen, president of Mondelez International China, the company behind Oreo cookies.
During this year’s event, South Korean cosmetic group Amorepacific launched a string of limited-edition products tailored to Chinese customers, introduced a new brand and better tapped consumers via livestreaming, short videos and other original content, said Charles Kao, China president of Amorepacific.
Singles Day uses the day Nov. 11, or 11/11, to symbolize the solitariness of the four digits to represent being uninvolved in a relationship.