Alibaba and Amazon China gear up for the Chinese New Year

February 6, 2016 12:00 PM

Feb. 8 will be the most important holiday this year in China, as it marks the Chinese New Year. Family members will come together to celebrate with holiday feasts and most workers will enjoy a one-week vacation, many returning to their rural homes from big cities for the festivities. A lack of delivery personnel during this period is leading many sellers on China’s biggest e-commerce marketplaces to shut down, but Amazon China says it will keep delivering in big cities.

Many merchants on Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.’s marketplaces Taobao and Tmall have announced that they will stop taking orders Feb. 4-Feb. 14 because shipping companies are unable to deliver orders.

But Alibaba, whose online marketplaces account for more than three-quarter of online retail purchases in China, organized a major promotion in advance of the New Year’s vacation, the Ali Chinese New Year Shopping Festival, which lasted from Jan. 17-23.

Alibaba reports consumers purchased 2.1 billion holiday items from its websites during the sale, mostly food and gifts. 15% of the orders came from rural residents, a focus of the promotion, and sales at the 12,000 Taobao service centers in rural areas were 331% higher than average, the company says.

“By hosting this online shopping event, we enabled rural customers to access an extensive range of New Year goods from home and abroad, while making agriculture products from rural China more available among urban customers.” Alibaba Group CEO Daniel Zhang said at the event kickoff meeting.

Meanwhile, Amazon China, No. 5 in the Internet Retailer 2015 China 500, says it will continue to fulfill orders during the holiday period in 20 big Chinese cities, including Beijing, Tianjin and Shanghai. In fact, the largest overseas e-retailer operating in China says it will extend delivery hours to midnight during the holiday in order to allow Chinese online shoppers to get their orders on time. 

Amazon China operates 13 fulfillment centers in China and employs its own fulfillment staff. The subsidiary of Inc. offers same-day delivery in 123 Chinese cities and second-day delivery in over 1,400 Chinese cities and towns. 

For a fuller report on the openings for foreign companies to sell online in China, see “Open Door Policy” in the November 2015 issue of Internet Retailer magazine.

For more Chinese e-commerce data, please click here for Internet Retailer 2015 China 500. 




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