Alibaba and kick off China’s largest sales event post COVID

Date : 03 June 2020

Jiong-Jiong Yu

Senior Retail Analyst

The annual 6.18 Mid-Year Shopping Festival was kicked off on 1 June, which is China’s largest online retail promotion since the outbreak of COVID-19.

Equivalent to 11.11 Singles Day

The event, which runs until 20 June, was launched by 17 years ago as the anniversary of Since then, it has become an online shopping festival for major ecommerce players. It is the equivalent to Alibaba’s Singles Day.

This year’s event provides an opportunity for brands and retailers coming out of the lockdown to reconnect with customers and regain growth via digital technologies.

Very encouraging” results

Online consumption has seen a post-pandemic revival since March, and the sales rebound that we have observed on Taobao and Tmall has been very encouraging,” said Liu Bo, general manager of Tmall and Taobao marketing and operations. Highlights since the launch of the event are:

  • Record level of activities from luxury brands: close to 180 labels participated in the event, including Cartier, Chanel, Burberry, Balenciaga and Montblanc
  • Apple makes a remarkable debut: according to Alibaba, Apple’s iPhone generated more than CNY500m (US$70m) in sales just five hours into the campaign
  • Alibaba:
    • GMV (gross merchandise volume) up by +50%YoY within the first 10 hours
    • More than 100,000 brands participated, nearly double the number of Tmall brands last year
    • An estimated 200 million new products will go on sale during the event
    • JD Super, JD’s online supermarket, saw transaction volume exceed 300%YoY in the first 10 minutes
    • Transaction volume of JD Fresh increased over 800% YoY, chicken and beef increased nearly 34 times and 12 times, respectively

Creative ways of deploying livestreaming

More than 600 brand executives and 300 celebrities will directly engage with consumers via Alibaba's Taobao livestreaming platform, which is being deployed to integrate online and offline experiences at a larger scale:

  • Physical stores: live broadcast will take place in more than 10,000 physical stores. Some of the stores will offer same-day delivery
  • Factories: there will be sessions broadcasted directly from factories via Alibaba’s dedicated livestreaming feature that enables suppliers to connect with consumers directly

Livestreaming as a new marketing tool has delivered impressive resutls this year.  GMV generated through Taobao livestreaming had exceeded CNY2 bn (US$280m) just 90 minutes into the event. By the end of the first day, the GMV had hit CNY5.1 bn (US$700m).

Use of 3D shopping feature to engage shoppers

During the event, Alibaba has rolled out state-of-art new features as part of its New Retail technologies,  which include a new 3D shopping tool and augmented reality filters that allow shoppers to virtually try on makeup and hair styles.

The 3D shopping tool is used by more than 100 home furnishing brands. It allows consumers to mix and match their own furniture and experiment with different patterns and colour schemes to help them visualize how products would look like in their own homes.

IKEA uses it to create an immersive shopping experience for its Baoshan store in Shanghai. Hangzhou-based Kuka is using the 3D feature to create online versions of its showrooms.

JD Central also launches the event in Thailand

JD Central, the ecommerce joint venture of in Thailand, launched the mid-year shopping festival on 29 May, one day earlier than in China. The warm-up sale  followed by a Super Flash Sale which offers exclusive products for a special price. Customers also have a chance to win coupons during different stages of the campaign. From 18 to 20 June, a Super Flash Sale will offer products at prices as low as just US$0.03

6.18 is the largest annual shopping festival of our parent company JDC will continue to expand it with the JD Central 6.18 Super Joy campaign in Thailand, which brings to customers 100 percent authentic brand products with special prices,” said K. Rvisra Chirathivat, CMO of JDC. “The campaign is also aimed at helping relieve tension of people who are ready to return to normalcy following the loosening of the COVID-19 lockdown measures, allowing shoppers to enjoy fun through online shopping. It is also aimed at helping stimulate domestic economic circulation.