October 26, 2022
BEIJING – When slashing prices is no longer a guarantee to hit record sales, Chinese online retailers need to find new sources of inspiration to forge a stronger emotional tie with consumers and retain existing buyers during this year’s Singles Day shopping festival, industry experts said.
They said consumer passion for the festival is here to stay, but it is hard for e-commerce platforms to maintain record-high sales given that an increasing number of video-sharing and livestreaming companies including Douyin and Kuaishou, and video streaming site Bilibili are diverting online traffic and attracting a new breed of users to virtual rooms.
Alibaba Group Holding Ltd kicked off its presale for the Singles Day shopping festival at 8 pm on Monday, promising to offer steep discounts and shopping coupons on some 17 million products from 290,000 brands worldwide and empower small and medium-sized merchants
Alibaba Group Holding Ltd kicked off its presale for the Singles Day shopping festival at 8 pm on Monday, promising to offer steep discounts and shopping coupons on some 17 million products from 290,000 brands worldwide and empower small and medium-sized merchants.
This year’s Nov 11 shopping festival is expected to witness the vitality of China’s consumer market, and the strong resilience of the manufacturing industry, said Dai Shan, president of Alibaba’s core domestic e-commerce, which is composed of its flagship Taobao and Tmall portals, business-to-customer retail and domestic trade.
The company said it will continuously increase investments to improve the consumer shopping experience and lower operational costs for merchants, as well as upgrade supply chain systems and logistics services by leveraging innovative digital technologies.
E-commerce platform JD has launched a series of supportive measures such as data flow resources, training, smooth logistics and upgraded technology support to bolster the digital transformation of merchants and help alleviate their operating pressure.
It emphasized the interaction of online and offline commerce, as more than 200,000 brick-and-mortar stores across the nation will participate in the promotional event.
Meanwhile, competition in the e-commerce livestreaming segment — the practice of sales personnel promoting products in real-time broadcasted sessions — has intensified as an increasing number of brands and merchants are flocking to livestreaming rooms of short-video platforms including Douyin and Kuaishou.
Experts said most of the e-commerce platforms have encountered some bottlenecks such as obtaining new customers, and livestreaming plays a vital role in helping online retailers gain new data flow in lower-tier cities and even rural areas.
“Chinese consumers have become more rational and are paying more attention to the value of the things they buy amid the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Mo Daiqing, a senior analyst at the Internet Economy Institute.
She noted that short-video apps are concentrating their efforts on e-commerce backed by livestreaming, and the online traffic is shifting from traditional e-commerce platforms to other multimedia channels, such as short-video apps Douyin and Kuaishou, as well as social media platform Xiaohongshu.
Online retailers should make strategic adjustments to reduce their over-dependence on top livestreaming anchors and support new anchors, she said, adding more established brands are aggressively moving toward starting their own livestreaming activities.
Two online influencers have chosen Taobao over Douyin for the biggest annual promotion campaign. Yu Minhong, founder of New Oriental Education and Technology Group, will appear on Taobao Live, the e-commerce platform Alibaba Group’s livestreaming platform, on Monday.
Chinese entrepreneur Luo Yonghao, also an online key opinion leader livestreaming via the short-video platform Douyin, China’s version of TikTok, started a livestreaming session on Taobao Live at 8 pm on Monday.
According to market consultancy iiMedia research, the revenue of China’s e-commerce livestreaming sector amounted to 1.2 trillion yuan ($165.2 billion) in 2021, up 25 percent year-on-year, and the figure is projected to reach 2.1 trillion yuan in 2025.
Zhuang Shuai, founder of Bailian Consulting and an expert in e-commerce and retail, said Chinese consumer enthusiasm for the Singles Day shopping spree will not wane, but what e-commerce platforms should do is to improve the supply chain, and optimize their business and operational models in accordance with shoppers’ buying habits and advances in technology.