Chinese consumers flock to sites that offer overseas goods
Chinese consumers' craving for discounted overseas items continued over the Black Friday weekend, even though they spent more than $18 billion during the domestic Double 11 shopping extravaganza just two weeks earlier.
Black Friday was introduced to the Chinese market by U.S. technology powerhouse Amazon in 2014 to steal some of the limelight from the Double 11 shopping festival initiated by its Chinese rival Alibaba Group Holding in 2009.
In 2015, cross-border sales via Amazon China on Black Friday alone were nine times those the platform generated on November 11, according to data the company provided to the Global Times.
Amazon China did not unveil its transaction volume on this year's Black Friday by press time.
Experts believe that the overall transaction volumes from China's Black Friday this year would at least double the amount generated in 2015.
"China's Black Friday promotion cannot generate as big sales as the Double 11 shopping festival did, but it still appeals to Chinese consumers whose appetite for discounted goods, especially from overseas markets, is increasing," Liu Dingding, a Beijing-based independent industry analyst, told the Global Times Monday.
A report issued by U.S. market research firm eMarketer in June estimated that China's cross-border e-commerce would reach $85.8 billion this year, increasing 50 percent from 2015.
By 2020, more than one-quarter of the nation's population are expected to be purchasing overseas goods online.
A white-collar employee in Beijing surnamed Wang spent more than 20,000 yuan ($2,895) in this year's Black Friday shopping event.
"Buying overseas goods, especially cosmetics and apparel, at international e-commerce platforms during Black Friday is very cost-effective," Wang told the Global Times Monday.
For example, a bag by Michael Kors, which sold at domestic physical stores for 2,285 yuan, cost only 1,149 yuan at Amazon China, she said.
Lu Zhenwang, founder of Shanghai Wanqing Commerce Consulting, estimated that the number of Chinese online shoppers who participated in the event was about 100 million.
This year, for the first time, Alibaba's cross-border e-commerce bazaar Tmall Global launched a "Same Products, Same Time, Same Price, Same Black Friday" campaign in partnership with several U.S. retailers including Macy's, Costco and Target as well as department store Isetan from Japan.
In the first seven hours on Friday, Tmall's Black Friday sales surpassed the total transaction volumes created by its Black Friday shopping festival in 2015, Alibaba said in a statement sent to the Global Times on Monday. Chinese consumers bought nearly 7,000 jars of Archer Farms Cranberry Nut Trail Mix via Target's selling channel on Tmall Global on Friday.
Despite the competition from domestic peers, Amazon China will still be a big winner of the Black Friday shopping event, given the rich range of high-quality overseas products on its platform, said Liu, noting that Chinese e-commerce sites largely focus on the Double 11 festival.
As part of the promotion for its Black Friday shopping event this year, Amazon China offered brand-name goods that were directly shipped from its UK and U.S. units as well as a Prime membership program that pledged free cross-border shipping for purchases on the Amazon Global Store, Amazon's first localized global store.
However, those efforts seem to have failed to woo consumers like Shang Yue, a 31-year-old Beijing resident who purchased a gaming console for more than $400 on Sunday via Amazon U.S. instead of the Amazon Global Store.
"The categories and number of overseas items on the Amazon Global Store are limited in comparison with Amazon's overseas selling channels. The console I bought has not been sold in China yet," Shang told the Global Times Monday.
Long Yumeng, a resident from Beijing, also said the Amazon Global Store lacks competitiveness except for its localized user experience.
"The goods bought via Amazon U.S. can be cheaper than those from Amazon China's global shopping channel," Long told the Global Times on Monday. The Kindle he bought on Amazon U.S. costs more than 100 yuan less than the one sold on Amazon China.