Forget Black Friday and Cyber Monday, Singles’ Day, China’s antithesis to Valentine’s Day held on 11 November every year, is the world’s largest online shopping day, according to Webinterpret. Also known as Double Eleven or 11.11, Singles’ Day as a shopping promotion was created by the Chinese eCommerce giant Alibaba in 2009. Bloomberg reports that Alibaba achieved a record $1bn of sales in the first 85 seconds and almost $10bn in the first hour of this year’s shopping extravaganza. By the end of the 24 hours, sales reached $30.8 bn, an increase of 27% on last year and more than the 2017 sales of Black Friday and Cyber Monday combined.
This year’s 11.11 featured more than 180,000 brands, including Apple, Adidas, Dyson, Estee Lauder, Gap, L’Oréal and Nestlé. While the majority of Singles’ Day transactions occur in mainland China, this year online shoppers in 230 countries participated. Alibaba is trying to make the event more global with its introduction last year of the AliExpress app and Lazada, its South East Asia online platform.
What makes the growth in this year’s gross merchandise value (GMV) all the more remarkable is that it was achieved in spite of the introduction of US tariffs on many products and a dip in the value of the Chinese Yuan compared to this time last year. However, the growth in Alibaba’s shopping festival’s gross merchandise value (GMV) is slowing down and as the event matures this growth will decline further. Alibaba is also facing some stiff competition on 11.11 from rivals such as JD.com which Forbes reported as having a Singles’ Day transaction volume of $23 bn.
Still, the competition from JD.com Inc and others such as the online discount retailer Vipshop Holdings Ltd underlines just how significant eCommerce in China has become. Speaking on CNBC just before this year’s Singles’ Day, Daniel Zhang, Group CEO of Alibaba and creator of 11.11 discussed how the event had changed since its launch in 2009, “The biggest change is how business people look at the power of internet. On day 1, people just thought that this is a new channel to sell more products. But today, most of the businesses view digital technology and the internet as infrastructure to transform their existing business and to go to a new market to serve the new customers.”
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