Employees sort parcels at a logistics center of ZTO Express in Fuyang, Anhui province, during the Alibaba 11.11 global shopping festival on November 11, 2017. Photo: Reuters / Stringer
Employees sort parcels at a logistics center of ZTO Express in Fuyang, Anhui province, during the Alibaba 11.11 global shopping festival in 2017. Photo: Reuters/Stringer

A buying frenzy kicked up a notch in China on Wednesday as the annual November 11 Singles Day event saw brands ringing up billions of yuan in online sales and customers snapping up imported items via e-commerce.

Tmall.com, Alibaba’s business-to-customer platform, saw 342 brands hit 100 million yuan (US$15 million) in sales between November 1 and the first 35 minutes of November 11. Among these, 13 brands, including Apple, Huawei and Midea, achieved 1 billion yuan.

For its twelfth event, the traditionally 24-hour brainchild of e-commerce giant Alibaba Group, has been prolonged for the first time. Alibaba added a new shopping window between November 1 and 3, posting preferential offers in a bid to spur consumer buying that had been hampered by the pandemic.

Key data points confirmed such forecasts. Alibaba reported gross merchandise volume on its platforms reaching 486.9 billion yuan in the first 11 days of this month.

JD.com, another major e-commerce player posting sales offers, recorded sales at 243.1 billion yuan between November 1 and Wednesday afternoon, compared with 204.4 billion yuan in the same period of last year.

With Covid hindering transnational travel, digital vehicles are quickly becoming the primary way for foreign merchants to tap into the Chinese consumer market.

The sales of JD Worldwide, the company’s cross-border commerce unit, surged by more than 120% on a yearly basis in the first 10 minutes on Wednesday while JD’s imported goods supermarket saw sales rise by 2.5 times month-on-month within 30 minutes .

Pudong New Area

To expand reforms in the Shanghai Pilot Free Trade Zone, the city’s Pudong New Area will test the “one integrated license” in 31 sectors, combining the previously required multiple licenses into one for market access, the State Council’s executive meeting chaired by Premier Li Keqiang decided on Wednesday.

The meeting also decided that construction, surveying and mapping qualification requirements will be slashed and optimised nationwide to energise the market and create conditions for expanding consumption and effective investments.

Market liquidity

China’s central bank pumped cash into the banking system through open market operations to maintain liquidity Thursday.

The People’s Bank of China injected 120 billion yuan into the market through seven-day reverse repos at an interest rate of 2.2%. The move was intended to maintain reasonably ample liquidity in the banking system, the central bank said.

With 30 billion yuan of reverse repos maturing on the same day, the move led to a net liquidity injection of 90 billion yuan into the market.

Company news

Tencent Music Entertainment Group, a New York-listed company, said Wednesday that its net profit rose 10.94% to 1.13 billion yuan in the first three months ended September 30 from the same period of last year. Revenue increased 16.4% to 7.58 billion yuan with online music subscription revenues growing by 55% to 1.46 billion yuan.

The company’s online music paying users reached 51.7 million, up 46% from a year ago. The number of new online music paying users amounted to 4.6 million in the third quarter, compared with 4.4 million in the second quarter and 2.8 million in the first quarter

Paying ratio was 8.0% in the third quarter, up from 7.2% in the second quarter of this year and 5.4% in the third quarter of last year.

“Third quarter results reflect significant progress in our ability to unlock the opportunities that are present in China’s dynamic online music industry as we achieved 55% year-on-year growth in online music subscription revenue with increasing paying ratio,” said Cussion Pang, chief executive of Tencent Music.

“Our overall gross margin expanded at a healthy clip compared with the prior quarter, thanks to the continuous execution of our business strategy and improving operational efficiency,” said Pang. “This strong performance reflects our philosophy of quality growth, investing with discipline and the unwavering pursuit to improve user satisfaction.”

Pang said the expansion of the company’s music library and diversification of content continued, with more video and long-form audio now available. He said the company enriched online music streaming by adding visual, interactive and social attributes to products, including offering a whole new level of online concert experiences through TME Live.

TME Live’s superior influence, brand, and production quality continued to attract more renowned domestic and international iconic artists of different genres and styles, such as Andy Lau, Eason Chan, Jessie J, and Charlie Zhou, according to the company. Since its launch in March of this year, TME Live has hosted more than 30 live online concerts. It said it will explore monetisation by attracting sponsorships from well recognised domestic and international brands.

The stories were compiled by Nadeem Xu and Shan Hui and first published at ATimesCN.com.

Xu Yuenai is a Beijing-based columnist specializing in international relations.