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Online retailers ready for latest sales extravaganza

Updated: 2012-12-12 00:44
By CHEN LIMIN ( China Daily)

After enjoying what may prove to be the world's biggest ever, one-day, online shopping bonanza last month, Chinese e-commerce players are gearing up for another sales promotion on Wednesday, this time luring customers with what's being dubbed the "double 12" shopping spree.

The promotion, initiated by e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd, aims to attract users by offering distinctive products and services rather than emphasizing low prices as they did on Nov 11.

Online retailers ready for latest sales extravaganza

Online shop owners prepare to deliver orders to their customers in Yiwu, Zhejiang province. Online retailers are anticipating a "double 12" shopping spree on Wednesday, Dec 12, 2012. [Photo by GAO ERQIANG / CHINA DAILY]

The record-breaking "Single's Day" promotion of Alibaba is reported to have generated sales worth 19.1 billion yuan ($3.06 billion), about 50 percent more than the so-called Cyber Monday in the United States on Nov 26, the day following Thanksgiving weekend.

"The Nov 11 promotion, held yearly since 2008, is widely known among online shoppers, and Alibaba and online vendors have prepared for months to boost sales on that day," said Chen Tao, partner of Roland Berger Strategy Consultants, adding that the promotion on Wednesday is not likely to be as big as the one on Nov 11.

Chen estimates total online sales this year are expected to reach 1.2 trillion yuan, up from 760 billion yuan last year.

By Monday Alibaba said 900,000 online vendors that sell on its had signed up to take part, with more than 10 million items lined up to be bought with the click of a finger.

Other major online players were also ready with promotional campaigns for the one-day special.

Beijing Jingdong Century Trading Co, known as Jingdong Mall, said it had arranged part-time models to send packages to users in four cities, in an effort to attract interest.

By the end of June, industry figures show that China had 210 million regular online shoppers, and the country is expected to become the world's largest online retail market next year, said Li Jinqi, director of the Electronic Commerce and Information Department of the Ministry of Commerce.

Although online sales still make up a tiny proportion of all retail sales ― about 4.32 percent last year ― shopping online has become the main way to shop in some categories.

Roland Berger estimates that about a quarter of books were sold online in China this year, making it the most popular online category.

Online shopping is also expected to account for a fifth of all electronic devices sold, a tenth of sportswear, and 6 percent of mother and baby care products.

Everyday goods, furniture and food, on the other hand, are bought far less online.

Lu Bowang, president of China IntelliConsulting Corp, a market research company, added that categories such as building materials and some types of furniture are likely to see substantial growth in the next two to three years.