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The Four Biggest Chinese Holidays That Impact E-Commerce

“In other countries, e-commerce is a way to shop; in China, it is a lifestyle,” — Jack Ma, founder of Alibaba.

The buzz around China’s e-commerce boom drastically picked up in the US during the second half of 2014, when Alibaba Group filed for its initial public offering (IPO) in the US. Since then, e-commerce sales have boomed, with retail e-commerce sales in China projected to reach $1.13 trillion in 2017.

China is hands down the world’s largest e-commerce market (surpassing the US in 2013), and US retailers can no longer deny the abundance of retail opportunities found there.

Like Westerners, the Chinese are bargain hunters who like a good sale. As such, the Chinese calendar is marked with heavy shopping seasons that are contributing to the country’s e-commerce growth. By identifying key holidays, events and seasons, you can further localize your presence by marketing and selling products to Chinese online shoppers — at peak sale seasons — who may be searching for American goods.

Below are four notable Chinese holidays that US e-commerce retailers should keep an eye on and plan for.

1.  Chinese New Year

The turn of the Chinese calendar, which falls in January or February, is arguably the biggest holiday of the year in China. For Westerners, the Chinese New Year is on par with Christmas in its calendar importance and the proliferation of sales and commerce. Hundreds of thousands of factories and businesses in China close for up to two weeks to give employees enough time to travel home to rural areas. With the shutdown and lack of employees comes congested shipping and delayed packages, so advanced sales are key.

2.  Singles Day

Celebrated on November 11 (11/11), Singles Day was originally a tongue-in-cheek holiday invented by several college students in the ’90s as a day for young, single men to celebrate their bachelorhood. It wasn’t until Alibaba came along in 2009 and embraced it that Singles Day blew up to become an e-commerce phenomenon. In just six years, it has exploded into the largest shopping day in the world. Single, married, old, young — everyone in China shops on Singles Day.

3.  Children’s Day

Children’s Day is an international holiday celebrated by different nations on different days throughout the year. In China, it’s recognized on June 1 and is a good opportunity for selling toys and apparel.

4.  Autumn Moon Festival

In China, a full moon is believed to be a symbol of peace, prosperity and family reunion. The Autumn Moon Festival is one of the most important festivals in Chinese culture. This annual festival, usually falling in mid-September, is a thousand-year-old celebration where families gather to partake in festivities dedicated to celebrating the moon. Small gift items tend to sell well during the festivities.

Is China Right for Your Business?

There’s no denying that China’s e-commerce market is strong. But it’s important that retailers carefully evaluate the opportunity and don’t look to China for a guaranteed return on investment, especially given the complexities of the region. Before leaping headfirst into China, it’s worth taking the time to consider the following factors:

  • Are products like yours selling in the region already? Is there a basis for competition, or can you see a gap in the market? Search the Chinese marketplaces, as these will likely give you a good overview of demand and supply.
  • Check your product supply to ensure you have enough inventory to cater to the increased number of potential consumers in the market.
  • Do you currently receive orders or website visits from Chinese consumers through your other channels? While a lack of current buyers may not indicate your future performance, if there’s already demand for your products, this should give you an idea of which ones will perform best in the region.
  • Is your business prepared to take on the added financial burden of selling into China? Be mindful that you’ll likely need to partner with a third party to deliver your products and navigate the fluctuations in the exchange rate.
  • Like in the US, speedy delivery is important in China. Many shoppers expect goods delivered within 72 hours of purchase. Can you get products there quickly?

Reaching Chinese online shoppers can be simple. Through a new integration with VoyageOne, ChannelAdvisor customers can start selling on Liking, a Tmall Global marketplace that sells goods from US merchants directly to online consumers in China. VoyageOne takes care of customer service, returns, logistics, marketing and more. Start the process of selling your products to Chinese buyers today.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in February 2015 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

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