Shoppers rush to buy goods for daily use on sale at a supermarket in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, on Tuesday, or the Double 12 shopping gala. (Photo by Xu Kangping/For China Daily)
Why have one shopping gala when you can have two?
Just a month after yet another record-breaking Singles Day festival, businesses are enticing shoppers to continue their spending spree in brick-and-mortar stores, offering perks of all kinds.
Over 1 million merchants in China and around the globe got in on the action on Tuesday, drawing smart phone-wielding crowds to restaurants, hypermarkets, movie theaters and hair salons by halving prices on select items and services.
In Beijing, avid customers formed long lines at KFC, Starbucks and Carrefour so that they could get first crack at discounted egg tarts, latte and everyday goods, especially those that have proven to be the most sought-after in past Dec 12 promotions.
And it's not just an entitlement for the tech-savvy youngsters. In Shanghai, senior citizens quickly filled their carts with veggies, cooking oil and bags of rice priced at up to 50 percent off, and were adept at paying with their phones.
Customers are eligible to additional discounts of up to 25 yuan (.77) if they do the treasure hunting work via Koubei, an online-to-offline local service site backed by Alibaba Group Holding Ltd, and settle the payment via mobile wallet Alipay.
Thanks to the steep promotions, the Koubei app became the most downloaded mobile application in China on App Store from the early hours of Tuesday, according to software tracker App Annie.
Chinese tourists could also enjoy special prices by checking out using Alipay in 15 countries and regions. Participating retailers included the Printemps shopping mall in France, Bonjour cosmetics shops in Hong Kong, and convenience chains in Germany.
According to Koubei Chief Executive Fan Chi, the campaign is aimed at driving off-line sales using data analytics.
"For example, every customer receives a tailored coupon, based on his/her historic average spending in the store," he said. "By providing the most relevant discounts, it helps to draw more recurring customers and boost sales."
Analysts said the campaign is more geared toward gaining a larger share in the thriving mobile payment landscape in China and beyond borders, where competition is intensifying between Alipay and WeChat Pay, a rival service from Tencent Holdings Ltd.
"The extra discounts provided by Koubei is a clear indication that as Alibaba looks to extend its grip over online commerce into physical stores, payment services should not lag behind," said Ya Yaqiong, e-commerce analyst at consulting firm Analysys.