By Jingyu Zhang
Northwest Asian Weekly
Nov. 11 (11.11) is notable because it is considered the “Singles’ Day Shopping Festival” in China. On Nov. 11, 2014, Alibaba reinforced their recent notoriety by promoting a Singles’ Day Shopping Festival, which is China’s largest 24-hour online shopping promotion. This annual festival went global, as shoppers in some 200 countries and regions went online to select from more than one million products being offered at steep discounts by participating Chinese and international e-tailers. Alibaba’s retails totaled at $1 billion.
Alibaba is China’s biggest online commerce company. Its three main sites, Taobao, Tmall, and Alibaba.com, have hundreds of millions of users and hosts millions of merchants and businesses. In addition, Alibaba is the most popular destination for online shopping in China, and is the world’s fastest growing e-commerce market today.
Transactions on its online sites totaled $248 billion last year, more than those of eBay and Amazon.com combined.
Since 2009, the Chinese Singles Shopping Festival encourages those untethered by a significant other to buy themselves gifts. Initially, 27 merchants on the company’s Tmall site offered discounts to perk up sales during an otherwise slow period. Now, the response has been global and enormous.
Last year, an 11.11 promotion sales showed the rising power of the Chinese consumer and the increasing presence of e-commerce. After only about half a day on last year’s 11.11, Alibaba reported sales on its shopping sites had topped $3.1 billion. Alibaba sets up a series of screens to track sales and orders at its headquarters on the outskirts of Hangzhou, China. At one point, bright streaks on one screen showed orders flying across a map of China. Tallied total sales as of 23:59:59 were RMB 35.01 billion (USD 5.7 billion) in Alipay GMV (gross merchandise volume). It was more than the $2.5 billion that Americans spent online on Black Friday and Cyber Monday combined.
This year, Singles’ Day landed on a Tuesday. It was expected to generate about $8.18 billion in sales for Alibaba, up 42 percent from last year, since the company listed on the New York Stock Exchange earlier this year. 11.11 promotion sales have become increasingly attractive to all countries. Until midnight on Nov. 11, real-time figures on a giant screen at Alibaba’s headquartered in Hangzhou illustrated the buying power of Chinese (and other) consumers.
Alibaba sold $2 billion of goods in the first hour. More than 27,000 brands and merchants participated in the event, consumers not only in China, but also those in over 200 other nations and regions that were able to participate in the 24-hour spending spree. Although 11.11 will most likely break the selling record every upcoming year, the tremendous selling record of this year draws a lot of attention. Last year’s record was CNY 57.1 billion ($ 9.3 billion) just after midnight.
CNN reported that the Chinese Singles’ Day shopping festival has become the global shopping festival, selling necessities and the extreme. Last year, Alibaba sold a 13-carat diamond ring, which was valued at $40 million. The company has decided to take 11.11 worldwide, highlighting global marketing. Even Costco is on board. The U.S.-based bulk discount retailer joined Tmall in October and is promising five-day international shipping for 11.11 in the future.
In addition, Aliexpress, which lets shoppers outside of the country purchase from merchants within China, will be a part of the event.
Hong Kong, the United States, and Taiwan are the top countries for exports of Chinese goods. (end)
Jingyu Zhang can be reached at email@example.com.