This article originally appeared on Content Commerce Insider, a sister publication of Jing Travel.
China’s first major shopping extravaganza of the post-coronavirus period showed that consumption is well on its way to recovery.
The two biggest e-commerce platforms, Alibaba and JD.com, reported a combined total of $136.5 billion in sales during the nearly three weeks of 618 promotions. By way of comparison, the two retail giants grossed just under $70 million in 24 hours during last year’s Singles’ Day, the world’s biggest shopping event.
Alibaba, which has not previously released 618 sales totals, said its gross merchandise volume was $98.5 billion, while JD’s $38 billion represented a 33.6% year-on-year increase in GMV.
As we’ve previously reported, the big e-commerce platforms leaned heavily on livestreaming this year to promote sales, combining star power with big discounts to keep consumers engaged. Alibaba’s Taobao Live boasted 300 celebrities in its line-up, including Kris Wu and Japanese virtual idol Hatsune Miku, while JD collaborated with more than 100 stars and announced a strategic partnership with Kuaishou to allow the short video platform’s influencers to sell products from JD within the Kuaishou app. Hundreds of CEOs, government officials, and even foreign ambassadors were recruited in the campaign to drum up sales via livestreaming.
Alibaba’s livestreaming sessions during the 618 event were reported to be up by more than 120% year-on-year. And while Alibaba’s platform Taobao Live has been an important driver of sales for Alibaba’s platforms for some time, livestreaming has only recently started to become a major area of focus for JD.com. This year, it hosted 300,000 live sales broadcasts, with 31 brands reporting more than RMB 100 million ($14 million) in sales from their JD livestream channels. On June 16, JD officially launched a partnership with Kuaishou by supporting the video platform’s own one-day sales event, featuring marathon livestreams by two leading Kuaishou sellers, actress Zhang Yuqi and influencer Xinba, which drew more than 25 million views and RMB 1.4 billion ($198 million) in sales.
In the final days of promotional activity leading up to June 18, Alibaba’s Tmall, Pinduoduo, and Suning Tesco each partnered with a major satellite TV network to broadcast star-studded gala shows promoting their sales. Instead of going the televised entertainment route, JD.com doubled down on its livestreaming content with a music festival, rock concerts, and a celebrity variety show. Read more in Chinese from SocialBeta.