Love is in the air as furniture flies out the window

Updated: 2013-01-18 08:40

By Yang Yang (China Daily)

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It's the day when young Chinese gather to celebrate - or commiserate with each other about - being single. But Singles Day on Nov 11 has turned into a huge marriage of convenience for marketers. That day businesses of all kinds, e-commerce outfits prominent among them, offer solace to these sorry souls, mainly through generous discounts.

Last year the people of Shunde had particular reason to be delighted with Singles Day. The volume of trade on, an upmarket online shopping website of, on Nov 11 was huge, and half of it was generated by sales from Shunde. Furniture sales on that day were 2 to 3 percent of the year's total, says Qian Jiang, general manager of the Asian International Furniture Material Trading Center.

"Although the raw figure was not that big, sales were concentrated in Shunde. It proved that there is huge room for growth, and e-commerce is something we plan to develop greatly."

The scope for selling furniture from Shunde on the Internet has been widely recognized among producers.

Zhou Zhenyang, chairman of Vollodis Furniture and deputy director of the Shunde Furniture Association, exudes confidence, saying Shunde will become the Chinese region with the most advanced furniture e-commerce services.

"The potential is huge. E-commerce has developed rapidly, especially in Longjing town, where many in the industry have enjoyed millions or hundreds of millions of yuan in trade".

The furniture industry in Shunde is well known for its fully developed industrial chain, from supplying materials, to manufacturing and trading space. It is widely regarded as having the most complete industrial chain in the country.

Shunde has the world's largest material market, including the Asian International Material Trading Center and many other smaller material markets specializing in different products.

On a train from Guangzhou to Foshan, two men from East China's Anhui province said they were going to the big furniture material markets in Shunde to choose cheap, quality material for one of the men's workshop back home.

"You can find almost any kind of material you want," one man said, "and that's why we have traveled more than 1,400 kilometers to come here.

Of course, the men could have saved themselves the trek by doing their business over the Internet.

Before the Asian International Materials Trading Center was built, there were already many of what Qian calls "the second-generation market". The first generation consisted of vendors selling their wares from rudimentary make-shift stalls.

"With the trading center we have the third generation. There is not only space for trading, but also for presenting products, offices and even living rooms.

"E-commerce is the fourth generation we are going to develop. It is a mode of the online-to-offline model."

After five years of development, in December 2011, the center launched a new version of its website, The number of employees at the E-commerce Trading Center of the AIMTC has grown from eight people in 2005 to more than 200 now.

Driving from downtown Foshan to Shunde district, you can see Macalline, one of the largest furniture shopping malls in China. Last July it became what is believed to be the first furniture shopping mall in China providing e-commerce services.

Zhou Hua, Guangzhou brand manager of HongMei E-commerce, says selling furniture on the Internet has been very successful.

In Macalline's Guangzhou branch, e-commerce revenue grew 50 percent last year compared with the previous year, he says. Up to half the revenue of physical shops in the mall is said to have come from e-commerce.

(China Daily 01/18/2013 page12)