Two students from Zhejiang University pick up their packages from a "package mountain" at a basketball court on campus on Friday, as the double 11 shopping spree has led to a peak delivery period this week. (Photo: IC)
China's annual shopping spree festival on November 11, which is also known as Singles' Day, unsurprisingly saw a string of records, while behind these numbers underlie the country's shifting economic trends.
E-commerce giant Alibaba said sales on its online shopping platforms reached a record 268.4 billion yuan (about $38.28 billion) on November 11, marking a year-on-year growth of about 25.7 percent.
The annual shopping spree has seen a growing community of online shoppers, expanding further into different age groups and tiers of cities.
Over 500 million consumers shopped on Alibaba's major e-commerce platforms this year, increasing by some 100 million from one year ago, data from Tmall showed.
Among them, consumers born after 1995 accounted for about 30 percent, while those above 50 years old reported the highest growth rate, rising 42 percent year-on-year.
JD.com saw the per customer transaction in third-tier and lower-tier cities grew 130 percent during the November 1 to 11 period, with their orders making up over 80 percent of the total.
The growth in online shoppers is partly due to the emergence of social e-commerce platforms, which offer subsidies or discounts to encourage the invitation of new users and group buying.
"Online shopping is already part of Chinese people lifestyles, be them young or old, urban or rural," Alibaba Executive Chairman and CEO Zhang Yong said at the "Observing China" forum held Thursday.
Along with the growth of Chinese consumers' purchasing power, consumption demands are diversifying in terms of brand preference and categories.
Over 200,000 brands worldwide joined the festival on Tmall. Among the platform's 299 brands with sales for each brand beating 100 million yuan on Singles Day, Zhang said.
While big foreign brands continued to reap big during the shopping festival, many domestic brands, especially in smartphones and apparel, are winning more consumers.
Services consumption is also rising. Door-to-door beauty care, luxury product maintenance and other services were popular on e-commerce platforms during this period.
Liu Qiao, dean of the Guanghua School of Management at Peking University, predicted services consumption to make up about 60 percent or more in China's total consumption by 2035.
As Chinese consumers' shopping preferences and habits are changing, brands, especially those in manufacturing, should innovate their production and operation to boost the supply chain efficiency, said Manny Maceda, worldwide managing partner of global consultancy Bain & Company.
AliResearch head Gao Hongbing said that digitalization is the way to gain deeper understanding of consumers, develop tailored products and services, handle swarms of orders and ensure fast delivery and other post-sales services.
Via a big data platform that tracks real-time orders and inventory as well as an online-plus-offline retail strategy, domestic fashion brand PEACEBIRD raked in over 900 million yuan in sales on November 11.