by Karen Zhou
As one of the world's biggest shopping festivals, Black Friday hit a $9 billion record this year. Due to the pandemic, shoppers are forced to stay at home. Online spending on Black Friday has increased by 21.6% compared to last year.
Black Friday in the short history of the Chinese e-commerce industry, is still the most influential day of the year. We noticed that the more domestic e-commerce players and cross-border retailers had participated in Black Friday 2020, and launched various promotion activities to stimulate sales.
In the article, we took a look at Black Friday in China 2020 to see what was different this year.
Amazon teamed up with Baidu and launched a week-long Black Friday
Originated in the US retail industry, Black Friday traditionally started on the Friday after Thanksgiving, which is November 27 this year. But there is a change in 2020. As Alibaba has innovatively increased this year’ Singles Day to two sale windows, Amazon also launched the most extended Black Friday shopping season in 2020. The company kicked off Black Friday as early on November 19, which lasted a full week until the end of the day on Black Friday, December 27.
Amazon’s data showed that more than 480,000 international brands participated in the Black Friday shopping festival. There are over 30 million overseas goods available on Amazon China, covering about 30 categories.
Amazon’s Black Friday calendar covering Black Friday and Cyber Monday from November 19 to December 1
In a surprising move, Amazon teamed up with Baidu to launch a smart mini-program a week before Amazon’s Black Friday shopping season. Customers can easily find the mini-program ranked at the top when they search “Amazon” or its Chinese nickname “美亚” on Baidu mobile APP. The mini-program synchronized more than 20 million overseas items from Amazon’s CN website, covering 30 categories. Baidu users can directly complete the purchase via the Amazon mini-program, without registering an Amazon account separately.
Pinduoduo Focused on Bonded Warehouse Live Streaming
Leveraging group-buying promotions and numerous aggressive subsidy campaigns, Pinduoduo has accumulated approximately 643.4 million monthly active usersand became one of the biggest e-commerce platforms in China. However, the company is widely perceived by consumers for its bad reputation of selling low-quality and shoddy products.
As customers are mainly looking for high-quality products via cross-border e-commerce, many are concerned about product authenticity. Especially for products such as imported infant milk powder and food. So traditionally Black Friday is non-relevant to the most domestic platform – including the "bad reputed” Pinduoduo sellers.
To alleviate such concern and improve the brand image, Pinduoduo launched a series of bonded warehouse live streaming campaigns during this year’s Black Friday. The live streaming was landed in Fuzhou Jiangyin Comprehensive Bonded Zone, giving customers a live tour of Pinduoduo’s bonded warehouses. It allowed customers to directly see how the operation work there and, to some extent, alleviated their concerns about product quality.
Aside from this, Pinduoduo also invited Michelle Chen to the live streaming. Michelle Chen is a famous actress well-known in China, and she is also a mother. On the live streaming session that attracted over 200,000 visitors, Michelle Chen shared her experience of purchasing milk powder and endorsed Mead Johnson Nutrition’s milk power, the United States leading nutrition brand for babies and children. The live streaming resulted in a sale surge of this brand and led to an increase of nearly 210% YoY in orders that were delivered from the bonded warehouse on the platform.
Michelle Chen endorsed Mead Johnson Nutrition in live streaming
Tmall Global Brought Black Friday to Offline Store
In the past, Chinese consumers participated in Black Friday promotions through online purchasing. Due to cross-border shipping and customs clearance, it often takes a long time for consumers to get the products. Even though some bonded warehouse showrooms for offline experience, it’s not convenient for customers with such a long distance located in free trade zones.
HangZhou Intime (Xiasha) Shopping Center
This year’s Black Friday, Tmall launched a New Retail-powered brick-and-mortar store in Intime Shopping Center, an urban area in Hangzhou city. Consumers can place orders by scanning the product's QR code, and goods are delivered directly by an express route from the bonded warehouse to the store within 20 minutes. It dramatically shortens the order fulfillment time for cross-border shopping.
The imported goods in the store are selected from more than 26,000 overseas brands from 84 countries and regions on Tmall Global. The store will present about 130 types of popular products in the initial stage, focusing on more than 60 overseas brands, covering cosmetics, personal care, nutrition, health care, daily necessities, mom and babies.
Tmall Global’s New Retail-powered brick-and-mortar store: customer places order by scanning QR code
Private Traffic Played Key Role in Black Friday 2020
As customer acquisition cost has increased significantly on traditional e-commerce platforms like Tmall and JD.com, the concept of private traffic has become a buzzword in China this year. WeChat is one of the most fundamental channels for brands to establish a private traffic pool.
Based in New York, FragranceNet.com is an independent retailer carrying genuine brand name fragrances, skincare, haircare, candles and makeup. As it enters China’s market this year, Azoya developed a localized WeChat strategy for FragranceNet.com, which resulted in a 15x increase in sales on Black Friday.
This year’s Black Friday, FragranceNet firstly promoted the Black Friday campaign on its WeChat official account and guided users to get an exclusive coupon from WeChat Work. By setting up the one-on-one personal customer service function and established a private WeChat group, FragranceNet.com has dramatically built up a closed relationship with valued customers and direct them to use the exclusive coupon on its mini-program.
The number of new fans to FragranceNet.com’s WeChat Work has increased by 36%, while the private traffic pool contributed over 60% of the total sales during this year’s Black Friday.
Customers get an exclusive coupon via FragranceNet.com’s WeChat Work, which can be used on the mini-program
1. As the world’s largest e-commerce player, Amazon is looking for more domestic & customer friendly channels to reach Chinese customers during the Black Friday promotion.
2. Pinduoduo launched bonded warehouse live streaming to earn customers’ trust for its cross-border e-commerce business. The endorsement from the Chinese celebrity Michelle Chen led to a sale increase on Black Friday.
3. Tmall Global launched a New Retail brick-and-mortar store to bring Black Friday offline and it dramatically shortens the delivery time within 20 minutes.
4. FragranceNet.com leveraged WeChat Work and WeChat group to establish direct communication with valued customers. The private traffic pool has made a strong result in the Black Friday promotion.
 “Black Friday 2020 online shopping surges 22% to record $9 billion”28 Nov CNBC <https://www.cnbc.com/2020/11/28/black-friday-2020-online-shopping-surges-22percent-to-record-9-billion-adobe-says.html>
 “Amazon expects bumper Black Friday sales” 16 Nov SHINE <https://www.shine.cn/biz/company/2011169910/>
 “Baidu teams up with Amazon to expand e-commerce business” 16 Nov 2020 KrASIA <https://kr-asia.com/baidu-teams-up-with-amazon-to-expand-e-commerce-business>
 “Number of monthly active users of Pinduoduo Inc” 30 Nov 2020 Statista <https://www.statista.com/statistics/1006368/china-pinduoduo-monthly-active-users/>