China's 'Singles Day' online shopping spree brings in billions

Hit Singles

The massive, promotion-driven shopping event in China that drives the biggest one-day online sales in the world, is not the natural setting for high-end luxury brands - so e-commerce marketplace Alibaba made a place for them.

Sales from last year's Singles Day grossed $17.8 billion.

This year, 140,000 different merchants took part in the event, including many worldwide brands like Tampax and Asos. Cyber Monday in the United States saw $3.45 billion in online sales a year ago. Alipay processed 1.5 billion payment transactions in total, up 41% from 2016, and processed 256,000 transactions per second at peak.

Such objections are, however, not likely to hold Alibaba back from its push toward expanding "Singles Day" onto the global market.

Alibaba and JD stock have both doubled this year as revenues surged.

This loneliest of dates (one-one-one-one), which meant to resemble four solitary sticks, is when China celebrates its Singles' Day. It takes its name from the way the day is written numerically as 11/11.

The company has converted about 100,000 retail stores to "smart stores", which will allow consumers to receive tailored shopping experience with the use of facial recognition, "cloud shelf" and location-based store and discount recommendations among others.

More than 90 percent of orders were placed via mobile, the majority of which on Alibaba's main e-commerce platform Taobao.com (淘寶). Greenpeace said Singles' Day deliveries previous year created 130,000 tonnes of packaging waste - less than 10 per cent of which is recycled.

This year, the company saw consumers spending 10 billion yuan (US$1.5 billion) in 3 minutes after the 24-hour shopping spree kicked off on November 11, 2017, compared with 10 billion yuan in 6 minutes of Singles' Day last year. It already has a substantial stake in Lazada, an online retailer in South-east Asia and recently launched an electronic trading hub in Malaysia. "We will see tens of billions of dollars injected overseas (by Alibaba)", said Mr Li Chengdong, a Beijing-based independent e-commerce analyst.

"It could end up dominating e-commerce in developing countries".

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