“Double 11” online shopping festival reflects huge potential of Chinese consumption market

By Wang Ke, Luo Shanshan, People’s Daily

Singles’ Day shopping festival that falls on Nov. 11 each year, also known as “Double 11”, is one of the most anticipated date of the year for China’s consumers.

This year, “Double 11” transaction data delivered by major e-commerce platforms in China still kept an upward trend, signaling the huge potential of the Chinese consumption market.

E-commerce giant JD.com said transaction volume on its platform totaled 349.1 billion yuan ($54.6 billion) during the Single’s Day period, and the figure exceeded what the company had witnessed last year. In particular, the value of household appliance orders placed on the company’s platform surpassed 2 billion yuan in the first five minutes after 20:00 pm on Nov. 10.

Tmall, online marketplace of Chinese multinational Alibaba, reported gross merchandise volume of 540.3 billion yuan during the annual online shopping spree.

A number of small- and medium-sized brands achieved leapfrog growth on the platform. A total of 698 such brands that racked up over one million yuan during last year’s “Double 11” witnessed their turnover hitting 10 million yuan in the first 11 days of November this year.

Li Zhengbo, an expert with the China International Electronic Commerce Center, an institute under the country’s Ministry of Commerce, noted that the sales promotions represented by the “Double 11” have become important shopping events recognized and accepted by many consumers. The “Double 11” not only demonstrates the huge potential of China’s consumption market, but also will further boost consumer confidence, the expert added.

The sales performance of agricultural products was a highlight of this year’s “Double 11,” as e-commerce platforms both expanded sales channels of these products and improved farmers’ income. For instance, apples directly sourced from Gansu province, were sold out immediately after they were placed on Taote (Taobao Special Edition) , an e-commerce platform of Alibaba. On JD.com’s platform, the sales of king crabs surged 600 times from a year ago, and that of kiwifruits produced in Xiuwen, southwest China’s Guizhou province also grew tenfold.

Just minutes after JD.com officially started the “main course” part of the online shopping spree on the evening of Nov. 10, a man surnamed Lin in Weinan, northwest China’s Shaanxi province got a box of kiwifruits he ordered on the company’s platform. It was the one millionth order received by the JD.com smart supply center in Wugong county, Shaanxi province since the center started trial operation.

Li believes that the “Double 11” has reshaped consumers’ shopping habits over the past years. The consumers now pay more attention to the quality of commodities and the delivery service as well, and they have also become more rational when shopping, the expert explained.

These changes have released new consumption demands and raised higher requirements for e-commerce platforms, he pointed out. Merchants and logistics enterprises must enhance their capability to process orders in peak hours, so as to reinforce consumers’ loyalty with constant, stable and high-quality services.

Sales data during the online shopping spree, as an important indicator of China’s consumption market, mirrored the trend of consumption upgrading in the country.

The transaction volume of an oxygen concentrator produced by Yuwell, a Chinese medical equipment solution supplier, exceeded one million yuan just one minute after the “Double 11” started on JD.com. The platform’s official online pharmacy also witnessed a 100 percent growth in transaction volume in five minutes after the shopping spree began.

Online retailer Suning.com said middle- and high-end household appliances were hot during this year’s “Double 11.” The sales of appliance sets grew 46 percent from a year ago, and that of low-energy-consumption appliances went up 39 percent.

Service consumption was another keyword of this year’s “Double 11” as housekeeping, auto maintenance, physical check-ups, and home decor services received huge attention from the consumers. The number of auto maintenance orders on Chinese car maintenance start-up Tuhu increased nearly 40 percent year on year.

Li Yongjian, a researcher with the National Academy of Economic Strategy, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences told People’s Daily that the “Double 11” just showed new characteristics for its in-depth integration of online and offline services. On one hand, online platforms, by employing new technologies such as AI, further optimized consumption experiences. On the other hand, offline shopping also went through a transition to offer more convenience for the consumers.

The online shopping spree, experiencing a constant optimization on the supply side, is conducive to releasing more consumption potential on the Chinese market, and will give consumption a bigger role in the building of a new development stage, the researcher said.