Attracted by big discounts during Taobao Marketplace’s 12.12 sale, Chinese consumers on Friday rushed supermarkets, restaurants and other brick-and-mortar retailers participating in the once-a-year online event.
Photos posted on Chinese social media sites showed packed stores, empty shelves and long queues as consumers sought to redeem discounts of up to 50 percent by using their mobile phones to pay for goods and services from some 20,000 offline merchants that joined the sale.
In Hangzhou, the capital of Zhejiang province, some supermarkets delayed closing times by an hour until 11 p.m. to clear out long lines of shoppers waiting to check out during the 12.12 sale. Bread and milk at participating local bakeries and dairy stores were reportedly sold out soon after the event began. At 70 Pizza Hut outlets in Shanghai, more than 11,000 payments were made around lunchtime on Dec. 12 after discounts of up to 50 yuan ($8.08) were offered on meals. Some 10,000 discount vouchers for car washes were sold in the first hour, according to Taobao.
Originally an online event geared for Taobao Marketplace’s small- and micro e-tailers, the last two 12.12 sales have had a heavy O2O (online-to-offline) component as Alibaba Group-owned Taobao seeks to encourage consumers to shop and pay for everyday goods and services using its mobile app and the Alipay Wallet e-payment app. More than 30 supermarket chains and convenience stores located throughout China, among them Wu Mart, Family Mart, KEDI and Lotus, joined the sale this year, as did restaurants, housekeeping service firms, taxi companies, real estate developers, auto parts vendors and dry cleaners, among others.
Taobao did not disclose how much consumers spent in total during the sale. Mobile transactions accounted for 45.8 percent of total transactions, the company said.
Random results from the 12.12 sale, according to Taobao:
• 24,000 housekeepers were hired online during the 24-hour period.
• 1,400 online-education courses were sold in 15 minutes.
• 4,000 housing units were reserved online.
• A dental practice with offices in Beijing, Shanghai and Tianjin booked 1,115 appointments in eight hours through Taobao during the sale.
• 7,000 pieces of jade and jewelry were sold through Tabao’s auction channel.
• 4.8 million people ordered food online.
• 70 overseas properties in nine countries were auctioned off in two hours.
Alizila reporter Susan Wang contributed to this story.