Alibaba breaks records with $30bn sales on Singles Day

12/11/2019

Chinese ecommerce giant Alibaba has set a new sales record on Singles Day, the world’s largest 24-hour shopping event.

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Now in its 11th year, Singles Day has become the biggest sales day in the world overtaking Black Friday and Cyber Monday combined, with sales growing far beyond its origin in China.

Gross merchandise value, a figure that shows sales across Alibaba’s shopping platforms, surpassed last year’s 213.5 billion yuan record (nearly $30.5 billion) on Monday afternoon local time, and kept rising through the rest of the day.

It was the 11th edition of the annual Singles Day event — also called the Double 11 shopping festival because it falls on Nov. 11. During the 24-hour period, which began at midnight in Singapore and Hong Kong, Alibaba offered huge discounts across its e-commerce sites such as Tmall.

Singles’ Day, also known as Double 11, is the world’s biggest online sales date, outstripping Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales combined.

It was originally a novelty student event to celebrate being single, but has since grown into a month-long online shopping festival that peaks with a 24-hour event on 11 November.
Now in its 11th year, the event sees Alibaba offer large discounts for the day in a bid to drum up hype and excitement among consumers. The tactic has been so successful that Singles Day now exceeds both Black Friday and Cyber Monday for consumer spend.

Top selling products this year include mobile phones such as Huawei’s 5G enabled Mate 30 Pro smartphone, as well as Apple’s iPhone 11 Pro and the Pro Max – despite the impact of an ongoing trade war with the US.

Commenting on the figures, Hugh Fletcher, Global Head of Consultancy and Innovation at Wunderman Thompson Commerce, said: “While Black Friday has grown to dominate the retail calendar in the UK and US, it attracts nowhere near the spend that China’s equivalent, Singles’ Day, does. These shopping events highlight an ongoing trend that retailers are taking towards big shopping experiences, creating their own peak moments in the calendar. Amazon has taken a similar approach with Prime Day and built a loyal customer base, as 72% of shoppers wish that online retailers offered similar services to Amazon Prime. And UK retailers must also remain aware of the arrival of Chinese retail giant Alibaba as another Amazon-sized competitor.

“For retailers, Singles’ Day is an opportunity to attract international customers, develop a brand outside of ‘traditional’ markets and create a moment in the time where shoppers come back for more every single year. Events such as Amazon Prime Day and Black Friday are popular because the smarter brands know consumers will be on the hunt for deals and offers that help them save money. Last year’s shopping event saw $45bn worth of goods purchased, proof that the day will be increasingly important to retailers in the UK looking to develop and grow their business.

“While peak shopping days offer opportunities to generate sales, retailers also need to anticipate the influx of customers and strain on the back- and front-end. With competition so high, the winners and losers on days like this may well be defined by a sleek or sluggish online performance. Ultimately, retailers that ‘own’ events such as Singles Day and Black Friday will reap the financial and loyalty successes that will likely come with it.”

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