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Highlights of the 2024 Chinese 618 Shopping Festival



The 2024 618 Shopping Festival, China's second-largest e-commerce campaign, recently concluded. Although many reports highlighted a decline in overall sales based on data from Syntun, both CITI Bank and HSBC have raised doubts about the accuracy of Syntun's figures.

 

Syntun reported a total GMV (Gross Merchandise Value) of only 742.8 billion yuan. In contrast, the National Bureau of Statistics of China recorded online retail sales of physical goods in May at 1.0925 trillion yuan. Syntun's coverage spanned various periods: Taobao and Tmall (29 days), JD.com (19 days), Pinduoduo (30 days), Douyin (26 days), and Kuaishou (29 days), averaging 29 days, or about 87% of May. Even accounting for the 29-day period Syntun used, the GMV should be closer to 951.5 billion yuan, significantly higher than Syntun's figure. This discrepancy suggests that the true GMV for this year's 618 Shopping Festival is likely above 1 trillion yuan.


Evolution and Impact of the 618 Shopping Festival

 

Development of the 618 Shopping Festival


The 618 Shopping Festival, launched by JD.com in 2008 to celebrate its anniversary, has grown into a major nationwide e-commerce campaign, second only to Singles' Day (Double 11). Held from June 1st to June 18th, it now involves primary platforms like Tmall, Pinduoduo, and Douyin (Tiktok), offering substantial discounts and special promotions to attract millions of eager Chinese consumers.

 

This festival is a prime opportunity for businesses to boost sales and enhance brand visibility in the competitive Chinese market. Over the years, it has evolved to include live-streaming, interactive games, and cross-platform promotions, becoming a crucial campaign on the Chinese e-commerce calendar.


2024 618 Shopping Festival Performance

 

According to Yiguan Research, the total GMV of major platforms like Tmall, JD.com, and Pinduoduo increased by 11.2% compared to last year. Transaction volumes on Taobao and Tmall rose by 12%, capturing 62% of the market share among comprehensive e-commerce platforms. Significant changes this year included:



Cancellation of Pre-Sale


Pre-sale model on Tmall
Pre-sale model on Tmall

Pre-sale on Chinese e-commerce platforms refers to a sales model where platforms accept user orders and payments (either deposits or full amounts) before the official release of the 618 shopping festival campaign. Consumers reserve the product by paying in advance without seeing the actual item. Once the campaign is officially launched, they receive priority purchasing rights or special discount prices.

 

Traditionally, pre-sale has been a key strategy during the 618 shopping festival across all platforms. It offers three main advantages for sellers:


  1. Optimized Supply Chain: Pre-sale helps sellers estimate and prepare stock more accurately.

  2. Maximized Sales: Pre-sale often includes additional gifts and promotions, driving higher sales.

  3. Enhanced User Experience: Consumers can pre-purchase products and receive them as soon as the campaign begins.


However, e-commerce platforms are shifting focus from short-term sales peaks to enhancing user experience and sustainable long-term business models. The cancellation of pre-sales reflects this trend.

 

In pre-sale mode, consumers must pay a deposit and remember the deadline for final payment, increasing financial burden and shopping pressure. Canceling pre-sales allows consumers to purchase more freely, without tying up funds in advance, enhancing shopping flexibility. It also helps maintain user loyalty by preventing users from migrating to other platforms during the pre-sale period.


Simplification of Campaign Rules

Past 618 campaigns involved complex promotional rules, including pre-sales, full reductions, discounts, red packets, and coupons. In 2024, the campaign rules were simplified to focus solely on "full reduction."

 

Simplifying promotional strategies to just "full reduction" makes activities more straightforward and appealing, quickly stimulating consumer purchasing desires. Eliminating complex methods like pre-sale makes pricing more transparent, enhancing consumer trust in e-commerce platforms and boosting user loyalty.


Extension of Campaign Period

Using Tmall and Taobao as examples, the 2024 618 shopping festival campaign was extended. Typically, the campaign runs from May 25th to June 20th, but this year it started on May 21st and ended on June 20th.

 

Extending the shopping festival duration gives consumers more time to shop, attracting more customers and increasing sales. It also helps alleviate supply chain pressure from a high volume of transactions in a short period, enhancing service quality and consumer satisfaction.


Intensive AI integration

2024 has seen explosive AI adoption, particularly in China’s e-commerce industry. AI played a significant role in supporting the 618 shopping festival, enhancing the consumer shopping experience through personalized product recommendations, virtual fitting trials, improved customer service, and live-streaming support. For B2B, AI aided in supply chain management, market forecasting, and sales analysis.


Conclusion


The 2024 Chinese 618 Shopping Festival has demonstrated significant changes and growth. As one of the biggest e-commerce campaigns in China, it offers international brands a valuable opportunity to enhance brand visibility and gain insights into Chinese consumer behavior, enabling more effective marketing strategies.

 

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