Chinese e-commerce platforms rise in Black Friday shopping spree
Nation's mature manufacturing sector boosts firms’ competitiveness
Published: Nov 26, 2023 08:29 PM
Temu Photo: VCG

Temu Photo: VCG

Chinese cross-border e-commerce platforms ramped up efforts to boost sales for the Black Friday shopping spree this year, with some seeing rapid growth, further highlighting the rise of Chinese online shopping sites in overseas markets, including the US. 

Behind the rise is the strong competitiveness of Chinese firms thanks to their successes in the vast Chinese e-commerce market, with efficient logistics networks and other infrastructure, and China's robust manufacturing sector that supplies affordable and high-quality goods, including clothes and electronics, analysts said on Sunday. 

Black Friday e-commerce spending in the US this year jumped 7.5 percent from a year earlier, reaching a record $9.8 billion, according to an Adobe Analytics report. A big portion of the online sales - $5.3 billion - came from mobile shopping and $79 million of the sales came from consumers who opted for the "Buy Now, Pay Later" flexible payment method, up 47 percent year-on-year, the report showed. 

The rise of Chinese-owned cross-border e-commerce platforms, including, Shein and TikTok Shop, played a major role in the rapid growth of Black Friday online sales, as these platforms used such tactics as offering major discounts and spending big on advertising to boost sales, according to analysts. 

While many of the firms haven't released figures for their Black Friday sales, some reported significant increases. TikTok Shop, for example, reported a "great start" for its Black Friday sales. The platform said that from November 14-20, orders in the US jumped 205 percent. 

Temu and Shein had not responded to Global Times' inquiries about their Black Friday sales as of press time on Sunday. However, both ramped up efforts to boost sales. Traditional US retailers offered discounts of 30-50 percent, but on Temu and Shein, discounts could reach up to 90 percent, according to CNBC. The Chinese apps could be new Black Friday giants, taking market share from US counterparts such as Amazon, CNBC reported.

While they are still lagging far behind Amazon in many aspects, Chinese shopping apps are rising rapidly. In October, Shein's website drew 28.6 million unique monthly visitors, up 7.25 percent from a year earlier, while Temu had 42 million, more than four times the number a year earlier, Reuters reported, citing data from Similarweb. Amazon had 268 million unique monthly visits in October.

"Shein and Temu can be regarded as the two most representative platforms in the wave of Chinese e-commerce platforms going global. They have successfully entered the mainstream US market. Both brands have achieved rapid user growth in the US market and are mounting competition with Amazon," Liu Dingding, a Beijing-based e-commerce industry analyst, told the Global Times on Sunday.

The biggest advantages of the Chinese e-commerce platforms are the vast size of the Chinese market, which offers various affordable products and an efficient logistics and supply system. "This is all based on China's strong production capacity and complete supply chain. Chinese e-commerce platforms that continue to go overseas are gradually occupying the US market, bringing high-quality and low-priced products to American consumers, and achieving win-win development," Liu said. 

Through Chinese cross-border e-commerce platforms, many Chinese manufacturing firms are also seeing rapidly growing orders from overseas. The owner of a hatmaker in Wenzhou, East China's Zhejiang Province, which participated in the Black Friday sales for the second year, told the Global Times that about 1.3 million hats are expected to be sold around the world during the shopping spree. A seller of pet clothing based in Ningbo, Zhejiang, also expects growth of 20 percent in sales this year. 

Cross-border e-commerce has become an important driver of China's exports. According to data from the Chinese Ministry of Commerce, the proportion of cross-border e-commerce in China's goods trade increased from 1 percent in 2015 to 5 percent in 2022. 

Between January and September 2023, the total cross-border e-commerce value reached 1.7 trillion yuan, a year-on-year increase of 14.4 percent, accounting for 5.5 percent of goods trade during the same period, the Securities Times reported.