Employees of YTO Express, a Chinese courier company, sort a pile of packages on Sunday in Lianyungang, East China’s Jiangsu Province. The manager of the distribution center said that over the next 10 days they will be extremely busy delivering more than 20,000 packages a day. The Double 11 shopping festive is also a huge business boost for China’s logistics industry. Photo: VCG
China’s e-commerce giant Alibaba set yet another record for the Double 11 shopping festival, hitting 10 billion yuan ($1.44 billion) in sales just 2 minutes and 5 seconds after the annual November 11th online shopping spree began at midnight Saturday.
In 2017, it took shoppers on Alibaba’s Tmall 3 minutes 1 second to rack up 10 billion yuan in sales, breaking the previous year’s record of 6 minutes and 58 seconds.
By noon Sunday, 167 brands reported sales 100 million yuan during the shopping spree. By 15:49 pm, total sales broke the record of last year’s entire-day sales for the Double 11 shopping carnival.
As of the press time, at 10:30 pm on Sunday, the sales number reached 200 billion yuan.
Also revealing in the shopping spree’s statistics is that US shoppers splurged despite the China-US tit-for-tat trade friction.
This year’s record sales also reflect Chinese people’s strong spending power potential, even though the country is under pressure from a softening of its domestic economy and strains from unresolved trade conflicts, experts said.
Cong Yi, a professor at the Tianjin University of Finance and Economics, said that China still has a vast space of as yet unmet domestic consumption need.
“China has already achieved a middle income level on average, and this income level has helped propel and stabilize China’s domestic consumption in recent years,” he said.
Strong consumption capabilities in China have already been proved by Chinese buyers’ performance during the China International Import Expo, which closed Saturday, the day before the Double 11. Purchasers from China pledged to spend $57.8 billion on imports during the event, data from the Xinhua News Agency reported on Saturday.
Yan Qiang, a professor of the Beijing University of Posts and Telecommunications, said that increased consumption financing, provided in part by loan apps, has also stimulated the Double 11 online spending carnival. “I would say it”s half good, as it boosts the economy, and half bad, as it creates a kind of consumer leverage in society with risks.”
US brands’ participation
The Trump administration has tried to pull its markets away from China by creating the China-US trade war, but data from the Double 11 festival reveals US shoppers are still in the mood to buy China-made products.
Alibaba said that in just 12 minutes after the festival started, consumers from 200 countries and regions have placed their orders on tmall.com, and US buyers make large contribution to the Double 11 sales.
One US buyer spent 120,000 yuan on a vase in the National Museum of China’s Tmall online store, according to information provided by Alibaba.
US sellers are also enjoying a good harvest from their participation in this year’s Double 11 shopping festival. Sales volume of iPhones’ new series including iPhone XS Max soared to 100 million yuan half an hour after the festival began.
US shoe retailer StadiumGoods also managed to match with half of their last year’s total Double 11 sales in just the first 30 minutes of this year’s sale.
According to Cong, it’s almost impossible for companies from developed countries like the US to give up the Chinese market. “Chinese consumers’ demand for high-end products directly fits US-made products. Where else can those companies find such a large and inclusive market? If they sell products to less developed countries, few people can afford them. If they sell them to developed countries like Japan, local competition would be very fierce.”
Buy more, buy better
Experts said Chinese manufacturing companies should upgrade the quality of their products to catch up with domestic consumers’ evolving consumption needs. “In recent years, Chinese consumers are searching for high-end products. That’s also why overseas brands have gained success in China. But domestic companies must shift their manufacturing model to make products with high added value if they want to survive in the domestic market in the future,” Cong said.
Data provided by Alibaba also showed that Chinese consumers are experiencing a “consumption upgrading” with their inclination to buy smart products. For example, sales of smart robots such as cooking robots or sweeping robots surpassed last year’s November 11 sales within the first eight hours of this year’s Double 11.
A Beijing resident surnamed Wang said that he started Double 11 shopping in 2009, when the concept was first unveiled by tmall.com. He and his family spent more than 100,000 yuan online on Sunday, a few thousands more than last year. Like many Chinese consumers, Wang and his family members not only buy more things but he’s also buys better quality products.
“I use online shopping to help decorate of my new home. My new home now has about a dozen products from tmall.com, including smart television, intelligent robotic cleaner and automated curtains, something I would never have done in the past,” he told the Global Times on Sunday.
Alibaba also presented a series of high-tech products in what it called “future life city” at the media center of the Double 11 shopping festival in Shanghai. These included robots that can collect and deliver plates of food and glasses of wine, a machine that helps buyers see how they look in clothes before they buy them, and a store check-out machine that uses facial recognition.