China’s an­nual shop­ping ex­trav­a­ganza

Ma­jor e-com­merce plat­forms in China say they are ready for the mas­sive in­flux of or­ders ahead of the Chi­nese New Year

China Daily (Canada) - - SHANGHAI - By WANG YING in Shang­hai

wang_y­ing@chi­nadaily.com.cn

Wu Shan­shan has started shop­ping for Chi­nese New Year prod­ucts ear­lier than usual this year as she is hop­ing to di­ver­sify her pur­chases with the in­clu­sion of some im­ported goods. For the 33-year-old house­wife in Shang­hai, this im­por­tant hol­i­day marks not just a time when her fam­ily mem­bers get to­gether to par­take in the fes­tiv­i­ties, but also a chance to em­bark on a ma­jor shop­ping spree.

She said that she would usu­ally head to the su­per­mar­ket a week be­fore the ar­rival of the fes­ti­val to shop for food and Chi­nese New Year para­pher­na­lia, but the con­ve­nience that e-com­merce plat­forms af­ford has led her to or­der im­ported goods such as beef and seafood for this year’s cel­e­bra­tions.

Sim­i­larly, Xu Yan, a young mother and white col­lar worker in Shang­hai, will be order­ing food­stuff from over­seas sources to usher in the Year of the Mon­key, which kicks off on Fe­bru­ary 8.

“As a mat­ter of fact, ever since the birth of our son three years ago, we have been con­stantly order­ing im­ported food and baby items on­line due to qual­ity con­cerns. Now, half of the food we buy are im­ported goods,” said Xu.

Ma­jor cross-bor­der e-com­merce play­ers in China are now tap­ping onto this trend and have greatly widened the se­lec­tion of im­ported goods in an at­tempt to make Chi­nese New Year the se­cond largest shop­ping fi­esta af­ter Sin­gles’ Day, which takes place on Nov 11 ev­ery year.

“Sin­gles’ Day is a made-up fes­ti­val while Black Fri­day is an im­ported one. Only the Spring Fes­ti­val is our own, and it should be­come the key for on­line shop­ping in the fu­ture,” said Li Cheng­dong, an in­de­pen­dent e-com­merce strat­egy an­a­lyst.

Ma­jor multi­na­tional brands and re­tail­ers on Tmall Global, which was of­fi­cially launched in Fe­bru­ary 2014 by Chi­nese e-com­merce gi­ant Alibaba Group, started prepa­ra­tion for the Chi­nese New Year as early as Novem­ber last year, and their Ali Chi­nese New Year Shop­ping Fes­ti­val of­fers im­ported goods from 25 na­tions and re­gions.

“More than two years ago, Tmall dis­cov­ered that the sales for im­ported food and health prod­ucts peaked in the run-up to the Chi­nese New Year,” said Ye Zhen­shen, head of mar­ket­ing depart­ment from Tmall Global.

“In con­trast to the Sin­gles’ Day sales when most prod­ucts are sold out al­most im­me­di­ately, the Chi­nese New Year sales last a longer pe­riod and fo­cus more on food and health prod­ucts. The de­mand will steadily grow as the New Year ap­proaches. Sales would nor­mally peak two weeks be­fore the Spring Fes­ti­val,” added Ye.

An­other e- com­merce gi­ant JD.com kicked off their Spring Fes­ti­val sales on Jan­uary 11, of­fer­ing con­sumers a host of prod­ucts in­clud­ing food, bev­er­ages, baby

Li Cheng­dong, quickly avail­able for ship­ping. This helps to shorten the time re­quired from ac­knowl­edg­ing an or­der to the cus­tomer re­ceiv­ing it.

Niu also said that Ama­zon is well pre­pared to deal with the in­creased de­mands dur­ing the fes­tive pe­riod.

“We are aware of this spe­cial need for peo­ple’s New Year’s shop­ping, so Ama­zon China will con­tinue to be avail­able in more than 20 cities across China even dur­ing the Spring Fes­ti­val, with the lat­est de­liv­ery time ex­tended to 11 pm,” Niu said.

Af­ter decades of de­vel­op­ment, Ama­zon has es­tab­lished a net­work of 123 ful­fill­ment cen­ters across the world, pro­vid­ing cus­tomers ac­cess to 185 na­tions and re­gions. Of th­ese 123 cen­ters, 13 of them are lo­cated in China. With such ex­ten­sive net­works, Niu said that Ama­zon is able to de­liver or­dered prod­ucts to 1,400 Chi­nese cities within one to two days.

Over at JD.com, Xiong said that tens of thou­sands of their staff in the lo­gis­tics depart­ment and ser­vice cen­ters will be on call to en­sure speedy de­liv­ery in nearly 90 cities na­tion­wide, more than dou­ble the num­ber of lo­ca­tions avail­able last year.

Chi­nese over­seas on­line shop­ping rose sharply from 10 bil­lion yuan in 2010 to more than 80 bil­lion yuan in 2013. In 2014, it reached 129 bil­lion yuan, up 60 per­cent year-on-year, ac­cord­ing to data by Analysys.cn.

China’s Min­istry of Com­merce fore­casts that cross-bor­der e-com­merce will hit 6.5 tril­lion yuan in 2016 and it will grow at an an­nual growth rate of above 30 per­cent in the next few years.

Shang­hai and Bei­jing are the lead­ers in terms of im­ported goods pur­chases for the Chi­nese New Year pe­riod, ac­cord­ing to Tmall Global. Up to 70 per­cent of Shang­hai buy­ers are fe­males aged be­tween 23 and 35 years old, and the most pop­u­lar pur­chases in­clude lux­ury bags and suit­cases, Ja­panese cos­me­ceu­ti­cals, small home ap­pli­ances and health prod­ucts from Europe and Aus­tralia.

A to­tal of 439 mil­lion yuan worth of goods were im­ported into Shang­hai through cross-bor­der e-com­merce plat­forms through­out 2015, soar­ing nearly seven-fold year-on-year, ac­cord­ing to thep­a­per.cn. Fur­ther­more, the size of im­ported goods busi­nesses in 2016 is ex­pected to ex­pand be­tween five and ten times that of last year’s, said an of­fi­cial from the city’s cross­bor­der e-com­merce divi­sion.

PRO­VIDED TO CHINA DAILY

E-com­merce has be­come such an in­te­gral part of life for Chi­nese con­sumers. Some 439 mil­lion yuan of goods were im­ported through cross-bor­der e-com­merce plat­forms in Shang­hai last year.

PHO­TOS BY GAO ERQIANG / CHINA DAILY

Em­ploy­ees of a courier com­pany sort­ing out de­liv­ery or­ders ahead of the Chi­nese New Year.

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