China's e-commerce boom still on song as No 2 player JD reaps rewards on birthday

PUBLISHED : Friday, 19 June, 2015, 8:25pm
UPDATED : Friday, 19 June, 2015, 8:25pm, China's largest online direct sales company, broke its daily sales record on Thursday as it feted its 17th anniversary with sweeping discounts.

A total of 15 million orders were placed, more than double the number a year earlier, the company reported.

It was founded by Liu Qiangdong in 1998, and its business-to-consumer platform went online in 2004. 

Over 60 per cent of the company's orders on Thuesday were placed using mobile devices, including on JD's native app, its mobile website, and two social networking mobile apps run by Chinese digital company Tencent – WeChat and Mobile QQ.

Other leading e-commerce players in China also saw huge discounts offered on their sites. Over 20,000 brands cut their prices on Tmall, Alibaba’s e-commerce platform, in a bid to keep customer traffic flowing their way. 

Suning, the e-commerce arm of one of China's biggest 3C (computer, communication and consumer-electronics) retailers, went as far as extending its sale period until Monday.

To catch its share of the day’s earnings, Guangzhou-based flash sale platform Vipshop prepared 100 billion coupons and digital packets of “lucky money”, the online equivalent of those red envelopes of cash – known as hongbao in Putonghua - that families bestow on younger relatives during holidays in China.

Meanwhile, Chinese retail chain Gome Electrical Appliances posted a message on its website vowing to award 300 yuan (US$48.30) to any customer who could show JD beating it on price.

READ MORE: Top 5 business-to-consumer e-commerce platforms in China

In the midst of this e-commerce battle, JD formulated its own unique marketing strategy by inviting several actors and singers to provide last-mile delivery services. 

Even former Phoenix Suns point guard Stephon Marbury, who now plays for the Beijing Ducks, delivered two packages in Beijing.’s share price in New York rose to US$35.57 on Thursday, up 0.3 per cent for the day.

While it was a big day for e-commerce players and online stores in China, daily sales paled in comparison to those seen on November 11, dubbed “singles day” in China since the 1990s due to the configuration of the date, which contains four ones.

E-commerce giant Alibaba reconceptualised this as an online shopping festival in 2009, thus ushering in a culture of one-day buying sprees for the Chinese public, among which June 18 now lists. 

In contrast to the 15 million orders placed on JD on Thursday, Tmall, Alibaba’s Chinese-language online shopping platform, received a whopping 278 million orders on “singles day” last winter. 

Tmall saw trading volume hit 57.1 billion yuan (US$9.197 million) as it offered discounts to customers from 271 countries and regions.

China will become the largest market for trading products online across national borders by 2020, according to a report by Alibaba and Accenture this week.

Last month, the State Council, China’s cabinet, issued a document giving eight directives to boost e-commerce growth by 2020. 

They included lowering the threshold for companies to enter the e-commerce market, helping companies secure financing on a wider range of channels, and ensuring fair competition, as well as the quality of products sold online.

Villages and companies in rural areas will also be encouraged to make better use of online shopping platforms, the State Council said on its website.