With the 13th China’s Singles’ Day approaching, the retail presales are looking impressive, as are the event’s support for green consumption and the healthy development of e-commerce platforms.
The annual event, which falls on Thursday, was first started by Alibaba’s e-commerce platform on Nov. 11, 2009, and quickly grew into a major shopping spree. However, it now carries additional connotations, thanks to enterprises’ growing awareness of social responsibility and the country’s detailed regulatory policies.
Also known as Double Eleven, the festival is no longer simply a consumption extravaganza but also a platform for promoting the concept of building a better life, according to Chris Tung, chief marketing officer at Alibaba Group.
“Here we want to convey ideas. What is deemed a good life, and what kind of actions are worthy of common aspirations. In addition to benefits, convenience and quality, we also hope to make long-term thinking that is more in line with the needs of social development and assume more corporate responsibilities,” Tung said.
This year marks the largest Singles’ Day shopping festival on Tmall, with a record 290,000 brands participating and more than 14 million varieties of commodities offering discounts, according to the company. However, instead of simply luring consumers to sweep up the goods, the company has started encouraging them to shop “greener.”
At 1:00 a.m. on Nov. 1, an hour into Tmall’s first three-day discount period, over 25,000 water-saving flush toilets were swept away.
“If each toilet is used five times per day on average, then 225 tonnes of water can be saved in a day,” said the company.
Tmall plans to issue 100 million yuan (about 17.2 million U.S. dollars) of green vouchers this year, encouraging consumers to buy energy-efficient home appliances and products with “green” certificates, as part of the efforts to support the country’s carbon-reduction goals.
Besides, 60,000 courier stations under Alibaba’s logistics arm Cainiao Network have prepared 7.5 million eggs as a reward for consumers recycling the parcel boxes.
“I have recycled 11 parcel boxes during this year’s Singles’ Day shopping spree, and the reward makes me feel encouraged and proud that I can make my own contribution to saving energy,” said a resident in Hangzhou, capital of Zhejiang Province.
E-commerce giant JD.com has also joined the “low carbon” campaign, developing recyclable packaging, deploying new-energy cargo vans and adopting photovoltaic power generation in warehousing.
“E-commerce platforms have a natural advantage in promoting green consumption, and they can help establish a full green supply chain,” said Jin Min, a professor with the Renmin University of China, adding that the Double Eleven shopping spree can help leverage the huge green consumer market.
SAFER ONLINE ECONOMY
The past 12 years have witnessed countless new online shopping records set during the Double Eleven. However, much attention has also been given to sellers infringing consumer rights, with consumers calling for stronger oversight of the industry.
On Nov. 6, the country’s State Administration for Market Regulation released a guideline on regulating e-commerce platforms’ marketing activities and cracking down on violations related to the Singles’ Day shopping spree.
Misconduct such as making false claims on discounts, exaggerating the efficacy of products, manipulating sales figures and comments, as well as selling counterfeit products, are all strictly forbidden, according to the guideline.
“The guideline will ensure e-commerce platforms and merchants are clear about the red lines, so that the consumer market can run smoothly,” said Liu Fujun, general manager of a network technology company based in Beijing, which has been analyzing big data on Double Eleven.
In response, Chinese online retail platform Suning launched a “fixed price” sales promotion in southwest China’s Chongqing Municipality. On Nov. 11, commodities at the designated outlet will be on sale, with no complicated rules such as presales or add-on items.
According to Hu Qimu, chief researcher at Tianyi Digital Economy Institute, stricter supervision will not dampen the vitality of the consumer market, but will contribute to the industry’s healthy development, so that society can better enjoy the dividends it generates.
Official data shows that retail sales of consumer goods, a pivotal part of the internal economic circulation, went up 16.4 percent year on year in the first three quarters this year, with online retail sales surging 18.5 percent.
This year’s Singles’ Day shopping spree is expected to invigorate the consumer market and promote consumption upgrading, said Li Zhengbo, an expert with the China International Electronic Commerce Center, under the Ministry of Commerce.