Alibaba rival JD sees Singles’ Day revenue jump 27% thanks to offline push

Alibaba may have pioneered the concept of Singles’ Day, the world’s largest shopping day based on sales, but it very much is not the only e-commerce giant involved., Alibaba’s biggest rival in China, just announced that it sold RMB 159.8 billion ($23 billion) in goods for its Singles’ Day campaign.

Unlike Alibaba, which racked up $31 billion in GMV in the 24-hour sale on November 11, JD’s festival ran for 11 days starting on November 1. That said, a large chunk of Alibaba’s sales are queued up in the days ahead of November 11 as retailers aggressively push deals, but JD is more open about its shopping period beyond the core 24 hours.

The firm’s 2018 numbers are up 26 percent on last year when it recorded 127.1 billion RMB in GMV — then worth around $19.14 billion. That was the first year that JD went public with its 11.11 sales. JD’s annual growth is about on par with Alibaba, which saw its Singles’ Day growth drop to an all-time low of 27 percent this year. That’s perhaps to be expected given the huge amount of GMV already being generated. It is worth noting — however — that JD’s GMV is about the same as its mid-year sale in June, which grossed 159.2 billion.

Alibaba shipped over one billion packages for the first time this year, but JD isn’t saying how many it handled. It did push out 400 million items from its FMCG and food business, and some of the brands it worked with across its business included Apple, Dell, Dyson, L’Oréal, SK-II and Pampers.

“There is a noticeable shift in China toward quality over price, which we see in the growing numbers of consumers who are willing to pay more for branded and imported goods,” CMO Lei Xu said in a statement.

JD’s approach to 11.11 has parallels with Alibaba, but also there are differences. Like its rival, JD has pushed its presence into physical retail with its fresh food supermarket brand 7FRESH, unmanned convenience stores and “Retail Experience Shops” — Alibaba has its Hema markets and InTime mall stores — while it claims that 600,000 stores used its tech and infrastructure to host their own Singles’ Day events.

While Alibaba has grown its business using both its Tmall platform for brands and Taobao marketplace, JD has taken a more managed approach to e-commerce. Most of its efforts are focused on working with brands, which is why it claims to have avoided the counterfeit goods issue that has plagued Alibaba, which remains on the U.S. government’s “Notorious Markets” list.