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Traditional retailers turning from bystanders to participants on Singles Day

2014-11-13 07:58 Xinhua Web Editor: Qin Dexing

A week ago, when compiling her shopping list for this year's annual online-shopping spree, Xie Jing, a resident of Xi'an City in Shaanxi Province added a wool coat to her online cart.

So when Singles Day finally arrived, on Tuesday Nov. 11, Xie was surprised to receive a short message from a local department store promising better discounts than shopping websites. She went to the store and did indeed buy the same coat at a lower price than advertized online.

Facing the challenge of competing with the rapidly expanding e-commerce sector, many of China's bricks-and-mortar stores jumped on the bandwagon and organized their own promotions.

The Minsun department store in Xi'an City in partnership with the online shopping platform Taobao.com hosted an Online to Offline (O2O) shopping festival from Nov. 1 to 11.

During that period, Minsun coordinated its items, prices, payment options, services and deliveries on Taobao and in store.

Ma Chao, CEO of the Minsun store, said: "Passively waiting for customers is now out of step with the times, and we should combine our business with the advantage of e-commerce."

An O2O promotion was also provided by Teemall department store in south China's Guangdong Province. The store has recorded estimated sales volume of 20 million yuan (3.26 million U.S. dollars) on Nov. 11, up by 50 percent from last year.

"The core of doing business lies in building up an emotional bond with customers," Ma Chao said, adding that traditional retailers should connect with online stores to provide quality service.

Li Dongsheng, chairman of China's leading home appliance manufacturer TCL Group, said traditional retailers had to transform operating patterns in order to survive amid the fierce competition of e-commerce.

China's e-commerce sector has witnessed rapid expansion in recent years.

According to Internet industry research agency iResearch, China's online shopping market had sales volume of 691.41 billion yuan in the third quarter, up by 49.8 percent from the same period last year.

This year's Singles Day shopping spree smashed records, with e-commerce giant Alibaba's online sales volume topping 57.1 billion yuan on that day alone.

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