The record-breaking Singles’ Day online shopping festival was barely over, but that didn’t stop Chinese consumers from scooping up Black Friday deals from Chinese shopping sites featuring imported goods.
Dozens of Chinese e-commerce sites promoted sales on the day after the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday, which was Nov. 24 this year and increasingly is known worldwide as Black Friday. Online retailers offer sales on that Friday well beyond North America.
In China, where Black Friday sales first appeared in 2013, the major websites offering big deals this year on imported goods included Amazon China, the Chinese subsidiary of Amazon.com Inc.; Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.’s Tmall Global, which specializes in foreign goods; and JD.com Inc.’s similar JD Worldwide.
Tmall Global says its Black Friday sales increased 200% over the comparable day last year. Among the 1,000 global retailers or brands offering deals this year were, Macy’s Inc. and Costco Wholesale Corp. of the United States, and Metro AG and Aldi of Germany. Participating brands offered free shipping.
Alibaba’s nearest competitor in China, JD.com Inc., also says its cross-border e-commerce business JD Worldwide tripled its sales on Black Friday this year over last year. Top sellers on JD Worldwide were products from the United States, followed by Japan and Australia.
Both Tmall Global and JD Worldwide feature goods that Chinese shoppers can buy under special so-called cross-border e-commerce rules that allow purchases of goods from companies that don’t have a license to operate within China. The rules, which only apply to purchases by individual consumers in limited amounts, often provide lower tariffs than would apply to bulk orders and expedited customs handling.
While Alibaba and JD dominate Chinese online shopping with their massive web marketplaces, foreign retailers that operate their own websites in China also registered strong sales on Black Friday, says Azoya International, a company that helps overseas companies sell online in China.
Azoya says its clients’ sales in China on Black Friday were 320% higher than on the comparable day a year ago, and that average basket size was 26% higher on the more than 25 e-commerce sites Azoya was managing this year.
One Azoya retailer client reporting strong results is Feelunique, a U.K. online cosmetics retailer that has been selling via its own Chinese website since October 2015.
Feelunique, No. 243 in the Internet Retailer 2017 Europe 500, says its Black Friday sales increased 600% compared to the sale last year and that customer acquisition was 220% higher than on Singles’ Day, the big Chinese online shopping event that takes place every Nov. 11.
One popular product was a Best of Beauty box that contained five top-selling skin care products. That’s a good example of how a foreign retailer can attract the attention of Chinese web shoppers and build its brand name in China, Azoya says.
Babyhaven, a U.S. online retailer of baby products that launched in China in May, registered 144% higher sales on Black Friday than it did on Singles’ Day earlier in the month, Azoya says.
“Although Black Friday is a typical U.S. shopping festival, we have started to see more and more Black Friday promotions in China,” says Zhang Zhouping, a senior analyst at the China E-commerce Research Center. “Consumers are often very actively engaged in finding premium overseas products. For global brands and retailers, Black Friday is a good opportunity to reach new customers and strengthen their branding in China.”
Cosmetics, children’s products, electronics and fashion items were among the most popular Black Friday items for Chinese online shoppers, according to CERC.
JD.com is ranked No. 1 in Internet Retailer’s ranking of the top retailers by online sales in China of merchandise they own, according to Top500Guide.com. Amazon China is No. 4. While Alibaba accounts for more than half of online sales in China, its marketplaces are not ranked because Alibaba is not the merchant of record for any sales, instead providing a platform for other merchants and brands to sell.