Behind the Figures of This Year’s 618 Shopping Festival
June 25, 2021

China’s mid-year online shopping festival 618 has just come to a closure. Initiated in 2004 by JD as a sales event commemorating the company’s founding date, it is now the second largest online sales extravaganza in China if not in the world, right after Double 11. Lasting almost a month this year from the end of May to June 20, the month-long sales event is a barometer for China’s e-commerce and economy status.

Aventura looked into some of the key stats and facts of this 618.  Here are our findings:

 1. China e-commerce continues to roar.
According to Syntun, the total Gross Merchandise Value (GMV) of this 618 across all platforms reached an astounding CNY 578.5 billion, a new record, 26.5% up year-on-year. Among top players, Alibaba comes as the champion, followed by JD and Pinduoduo (PDD). More than 250 thousand vendors partook in the event on Tmall, a 150% surge from last year.

The number of new brands and products launched during this 618 is a sound demonstration of the nation’s market vitality. Tmall brought out 8000 new brands and over 1.4 million new products in the event. More than 1000 new product categories on JD went over the CNY 100-million-GMV threshold.

 2. China’s e-commerce landscape keeps evolving.
This 618, we saw more ambitious moves from market challengers. The most prominent profiles are social e-commerce players such as Douyin (domestic version of TikTok) and Kuaishou.

In contrast to last year’s lukewarm reaction, this year Douyin raised its “Good Thing Festival” for the campaign, aimed to turn its 300 million MAU into tangible sales. “Good Thing Festival” enabled altogether 28 million hours of livestreaming and attracted an over-30-billion cumulative number of views as well as over 80 billion points of interaction with livestreaming broadcasters.

Kuaishou, Douyin’s primary competitor, not only kicked off 618 four days prior to other platforms, but also held hands with Chinese national satellite TVs for a grand “616 True Heart Night Gala”. A number of big-name celebrities and influencers were present at the gala event where billions of yuans were sent out as shopping coupons. So far, social e-commerce platforms in China have focused on collaborating with existing e-commerce giants such as Tmall and JD. Overtime, it is almost certain that these platforms will establish their own e-commerce system, thus changing the nation’s e-commerce market landscape.

3. International brands are rocking it.
It is true that in recent years, Chinese consumers have increased their confidence in domestic brands. However, the demand for high-quality international brands remains strong. This 618, total sales from JD Imported Supermarket (JD’s platform specialized in imported consumer goods) on the day June 18 was 160 times the sales of a non-campaign day. Categories such as fashion, beauty, personal care, mother and baby care, consumer electronics and healthcare all did well with an over 50% leap year-on-year. The most looked for categories were pet care, alcohol, personal care and F&B categories among others.

As China’s economy evolves and brings out consumers with maturing shopping mentality, the nation begins to see a division in purchasing needs. On one hand, consumers still go for low-priced daily necessities with reasonable quality, laying the foundation for discount-heavy platforms such as PDD as well as the recent C2M model; on the other hand, there is still a growing need for higher-priced products that could provide uniqueness, high quality and better customer experience, creating tremendous opportunities for premium international brands.

4. Livestreaming becomes the norm.
During 618 promotion period (June 1 – 18), the total sales generated from livestreaming shows reached CNY 64.5 billion, accounting for over 11% of the total GMV. The nation’s top livestreaming broadcasters Wei Ya, Li Jiaqi and Xue Li achieved CNY 5.9/5.4/3.2 billion respectively during the event.

Brands’ growing participation and increased market spend on livestreaming all point to the fact that livestreaming has turned from the “frenzy” to the norm. Companies that used to invest almost entirely in promoting on main e-commerce platforms were reserving budget for platforms such as Douyin – the main livestreaming battlefield. In fact, over 25% of brands have assigned more than 20% of their marketing budget to Douyin this year.

5. Highlights also to be seen in e-commerce logistics
Besides the most obvious promotional activities, this 618 we also see efforts made for the backend logistics systems.

During the shopping festival, JD – already known for its heavy investment in self-owned logistics system, further shortened the platform’s delivery time through early activation of assortment and packaging procedure, right after shoppers made their pre-sales down payment. The company’s first 618 package delivery was not made by human, but JD’s Gen-4 autopilot delivery car, minutes after the earliest shipment time. Backed by its AI supply-chain management system, JD was able to guarantee next-day delivery service to consumers covering 92% of the country’s households in small cities and counties.


Tmall on the other hand, announced it had reduced the carbon emission for each package delivery by 17.6%, the first e-commerce player to do so in the market. The carbon emission reduction was enabled by optimized algorithm capability, increased use of clean energy, and an advanced intelligent supply chain operational system with higher efficiency.

Behind 618’s impressive figures this year, we see China’s roaring economy after the pandemic and an outpacing consumer sector. Driven by continual innovation and improvement, China’s e-commerce platforms engage brands with consumers like nowhere else.

Want to be part of the nation’s e-commerce growth story? Reach out to us now.

About Aventura

Aventura is a Brand & E-commerce Accelerator that drives growth for both category leaders and niche international DTC brands in the China consumer market.  With decade-long brand building experience, we offer brand owners a holistic one-stop-shop growth solution that includes Brand Management, Channel Management, E-commerce Operations (TP), Logistics, Marketing & Branding and Consumer Intelligence & Analytics services.  We work with brands in diverse categories including Fashion & Accessories, Beauty & Skincare, Health & Wellness and Home.

Aventura is based in Shanghai with satellite offices in Hong Kong and Stockholm.


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