June 18 e-carnival to reignite shopping fervor

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Photo taken on June 4, 2019 shows China's online retailer giant JD.com's "Asia No.1" smart logistics center in Shenyang, capital of northeast China's Liaoning Province. [Photo/Xinhua]

Chinese consumers' passion for online purchases has been sparked again with this year's June 18 shopping carnival, which kicked off on Monday, as e-commerce platforms accelerated efforts to offer steep discounts and shopping coupons and use livestreaming product promotions to boost an economy hit hard by the novel coronavirus pandemic.

E-commerce giant JD, which initially created the June 18 campaign, said transaction volumes in the food category tripled on a yearly basis during the first day of its 18-day promotional event, with the online sales of candy and chocolate, as well as dairy products surging by 310 percent and 210 percent on a yearly basis.

Sales of iPhone surpassed 100 million yuan ($14 million) within five seconds after the clock struck midnight on June 1, with the total revenue amounting to 1.5 billion yuan on that day, according to JD. The sales of pet products skyrocketed by 328 percent on a yearly basis on Monday.

Moreover, in the first hour of trading, the transaction volume of air conditioners and televisions jumped by 200 percent year-on-year, while luxury products saw a 400-percent jump, achieving higher sales than the whole of the first day last year.

June 1 is also International Children's Day. Sales of baby and maternal products increased by 100 percent year-on-year on Monday, while the transaction volume of toys and musical instruments surpassed 100 million yuan, JD said.

Meanwhile, Alibaba Group's Tmall platform saw transaction volumes jump by 50 percent year-on-year 10 hours after this year's June 18 promotion kicked off. The company said over 10 segments, including skin care and beauty, electronic appliances, laptops, saw sales double on Monday.

The spending spree has fueled leading brands from Apple, Nike to L'Oreal and Dyson cross the 100 million yuan threshold by 10 am on Monday.

Alibaba this year has pinned much hopes on the so-called shoppertainment, or shopping while watching livestreaming shows, where online influencers promote the brands with discounts or complimentary giveaways. It said transactions generated from livestreaming sessions on Monday alone have surpassed 5.1 billion yuan.

The e-commerce giant has hosted over 1.4 million online broadcast sessions via Taobao Live, its livestreaming arm, since presales started from May 25. A Kantar report suggested that over 60 percent of surveyed consumers said they would make purchases from the midyear campaign.

Chen Ke, senior partner of consultancy Roland Berger, said the COVID-19 outbreak had a negative impact on the consumption of home appliances, consumer electronic products, cosmetics, apparel and luxury products. "These segments are bound to witness explosive growth during the midyear promotion after the contagion fully comes under control."

Barbara Shi, vice president of e-commerce at market research firm Nielsen China, is optimistic about the prospects of online shopping as the epidemic wanes in China, saying enterprises will beef up efforts in digital transformation and provide more products and services at e-commerce sites and online-to-offline or O2O platforms.

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