As China’s e-commerce giants battle for consumers, online shopping festivals like JD.com’s ‘618’ are starting to gain major momentum. Ending on June 18, the 18 days of discounts raked in a record US$17.6 billion in transaction volume, partly thanks to an increase in fashion, luxury, and maternal purchases.
The total sales increased by 50 percent compared to last year, enough to propel JD.com’s shopping festival to bring in nearly as much as Alibaba’s Singles’ Day shopping event on November 11. In 2016, Singles’ Day earned US$17.8 billion in sales in 24 hours, with US$14.71 million earned in the first seven minutes. Alibaba’s Tmall, JD’s main rival, still controls more than half of the sector, with JD controlling just under 25 percent.
JD.com’s 18-day event saw the growth of many categories and brands, including an 11-fold increase in transaction volume for Tag Heuer watches, and a five-fold increase transaction volume for Tommy Hilfiger products. The shopping festival not only attracted more luxury and fashion consumers, with twice as many first-time female shoppers compared to last year, but saw fresh food sales grow five-fold. Out of its supermarket sales alone, baby formula, cherries, premium ice cream, beef, and diapers were among the top purchases.
To attract more luxury consumers, JD.com launched a new complimentary delivery service earlier this month for purchases of high-end jewelry, watches, and accessories. The “white glove” service sees that consumers’ purchases are brought to their door in two days or less by a courier in a suit and white gloves. The courier also drives an electric car instead of a scooter or three-wheeled cart, all to match the attention to service with the category of purchase.
Cao Lei, director of China E-Commerce Research Center, told China Daily in a recent interview that players in China’s e-commerce market are adopting these strategies to cater to China’s growing middle class and discerning buyers. Despite all of the discounts, quality is becoming a bigger driver of purchasing decisions over price.