A holiday that’s red-hot for lovers and retailers

Updated: 2014-02-14 01:22


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A specially made coin with the couple's photo on it, a cupid train ticket saying it travels between their respective hearts and a box of condoms shaped like Ferrero Rocher chocolates are the top three popular Valentine's gifts at Taobao.

Taobao and Tmall, two leading online marketplaces owned by Alibaba Group Holding Ltd, have teamed up with the Netherlands consulate general to allow online shoppers to pre-order Dutch tulips, which are expected to be plucked on Feb 10 in the Netherlands and delivered to customers' doorsteps on Feb 14.

Brian Hui, vice-president of Amazon China, said young people are the major customers for e-commerce websites in China.

"Those who shop online are the exactly same group of people who would like to celebrate Valentine's Day in China," he said.

Hui from Amazon China said that tech-savvy young Chinese are very comfortable shopping online and tend to make e-commerce websites their top channel for finding Valentine's Day gifts because of the convenience of online shopping.

A spokesman at Chow Tai Fook Jewelry Group Ltd said gem-set products in floral shapes and heart shapes are most popular.

"As young buyer group consider Valentine's Day more seriously than other age groups, our promotion focuses on online channels."

"We see a trend that Valentine's Day is increasingly important to young Chinese consumers," the spokesman said.

Mao Ajing, an e-commerce analyst with the Beijing-based research firm Analysys International, said providing tailor-made and creative gifts are one of the unique advantages that online platforms possess, compared with brick-and-mortar stores.

She said Valentine's Day is not a shopping event as big as the Nov 11 Singles' Day shopping spree because it is too close to China's Spring Festival.

"A lot of people have to be frugal because they have already spent a lot before the festival.

"In addition, with couriers and delivery people still in the mood to celebrate the Chinese New Year, there is no guarantee of delivery. But it is certainly becoming an increasingly important event for e-commerce players," Mao said.

Newlywed Zhang Jing, a 32-year-old, bought a handbag from Taobao using her husband's account. "He wanted to give me a surprise. But he was not sure what I would like. So I am glad I can choose my own gift," she said.

In return, she purchased a chocolate with their names on it from an online service. "But I was told the gift would not arrive on time because of logistics challenges after the weeklong Spring Festival," she said.

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