The $30.8 Billion Figure Of Alibaba’s Singles’ Day Festival: Why It Is Worth Discussing?


November 19, 2018


January 6th, 2023

Category Blog, eCommerce

The Chinese conglomerate continues to set benchmarks for the e-commerce companies across the world. Alibaba’s Singles’ Day, world’s largest shopping festival observed a tremendous response globally despite several hurdles such as China-United States trade dispute, cut-throat competition, and tech-dominant environment.

In Numbers:

  1. The GMV sold on singles’ day exceeded 213.5 billion yuan or US$30.8 billion. This surpassed last year’s total, US$25.3 billion, by nearly 20% [source]
  2. US$1 billion of sales was generated in the first 1 minute and 25 seconds, beating the 2017’s record of 2 minutes and 1 second [ source ]
  3. The transactions on Single’s day came from 230 countries; 180,000 international brands and retailers participated, and the top countries were Japan, USA, Korea, Australia and Germany [source]
  4. By comparison, Singles’ Day GMV is nearly three times as big as Thanksgiving Weekend in the US by surpassing a total of 2017 Cyber Monday and Black Friday’s Sale [ source ]
  5. Alibaba’s logistics subsidiary, Cainiao Network, processed more than 1 billion delivery orders using modern technologies. [ source ]
Alibaba’s Singles’ Day Festival Why It Is Worth Discussing Image
Image Courtesy: Flickr [Original image used with modifications]

Alibaba’s Singles’ Day 2018: Ten Years of Global Shopping Festival and It’s Just Beginning

November 11, the historic date in the eCommerce industry is celebrated as the world’s biggest one-day shopping festival in China and across the globe. Although it is quite similar to Black Friday and Cyber Monday in the USA, this much-hyped shopping festival generated higher revenue than both days combined together.

The company discounts a range of products across its online sales platform and physical stores which includes Taobao marketplace, Hema supermarkets, Tmall store for brands, AliExpress international service, and Lazada in Southeast Asia. Also, some of the largest companies in China used television entertainment spectacle featuring Cirque du Soleil and Mariah Carey to grow their business.

The sale covers most-demanded electronic items like smartphones, TVs and other items like beauty, clothing, furniture, health products and more.

Do You Know?
Founded in 1999, Alibaba is one of the top 10 most valuable and biggest companies in the world. You will be amazed to know that Alibaba is the world’s largest retailer with the 9th highest global brand value across the globe.

The 11.11 shopping festival began in 2009 with participation from just 27 merchants and this time, 180,000 brands and 200,000 offline interactive stores participated in this global shopping spree.

The below-mentioned graph depicts the growth of Alibaba from 2013 till 2018.

Growth of Alibaba from 2013 till 2018
Image Courtesy: Techcrunch

Let’s see what retail giant went through to get the enormous success.

Look Back At Singles’ Day: How This Retail Giant Has Grown Since 2009

Year Timeline Sales
2009 Jack Ma came up with an idea of creating a shopping celebration 52 million yuan ($7.5 million)
2010 Developed tmall.com to support Taobao Mall where companies from China and abroad can sell directly to consumers 936 million yuan ($135 million)
2011 Significantly lost awareness of ‘Singles’ Day’ 5.2 billion yuan ($750 million)
2012 Taobao was removed from the market due to the issue of pirated or copyright-infringing goods 19.1 billion yuan ($2.7 billion)
2013 Jonathan Lu became CEO at Alibaba but stepped aside 2 years later and Daniel Zhang takes over 35 billion yuan ($5 billion)
2014 The company went public in September by releasing in the largest IPO ever 57.1 billion yuan ($8.2 billion)
2015 Singles’ Day online shopping event was celebrated in Beijing 91.2 billion yuan ($13.1 billion)
2016 Singles’ Day was celebrated in Shenzhen 120.7 billion yuan $17.4 billion)
2017 Alibaba made shopathon part of its strategy to connect online shopping with brick-and-mortar stores throughout  China 168.2 billion yuan ($24.2 billion)
2018 The company goes global and includes sales from Lazda and the southeast Asian online shopping mall 213.5 billion yuan ($30.7 billion)

Despite Trade Disputes, Singles’ Day Is A Symbol Of Progressive eCommerce Sector

Reduced cross-border investment and joint ventures with the U.S. can create negative impressions of ongoing trade, but China’s focus on its domestic market is something that every retailer eyes on. Sales were 27% higher than the previous year.

“ The US-China trade war will not derail the rise of China’s middle-class consumers, who are estimated to double to 600 million in the next 10 to 15 years and will power long-term upgrading of consumption spending.“

– Alibaba’s executive vice-chairman Joe Tsai

How They Have Surpassed The Expectations And Achieved Record-Breaking Sales?

What Enabled The Magic of Double 11?

How They Made It Possible?

We are trying to decode the ‘success factors’ behind this new record set by Alibaba in the eCommerce industry.

A Key Strategy of Omnipresence: A Lucrative Mixture of Offline And Online Sales

Aiming to leverage both, online and offline to appeal the local as well global customers, this time Alibaba’s main strategy was to leverage offline sales along with digital capabilities.

While the world is running after the ‘digital-only’ way in the eCommerce industry, Alibaba’s secret was to make this festival more accessible to small businesses and vendors. The malls, department stores, and supermarkets across China have participated in this festival to make it a huge success.

“Digital commerce is essential but brick-and-mortar (physical) stores play a bigger role in attracting local customers which ultimately contributes a bigger ratio in the success of any omnichannel sales channel.”

It was not just about eCommerce and sales, media channels, well-known logistic companies, and a huge number of organizations become part of these festivities on November 11th.

Immersive Experiences And Modern Technologies To Take A Lead: The Era of ‘New Retail’

As technology is changing our lives in a fraction of seconds, the key strategy is reaping the benefits of modern innovations such as virtual reality and augmented reality to get the attention of customers.

Here are some key highlights of technologies used in Singles’ Day celebration:
  • Instant language translation using AI(Artificial Intelligence) tool that translates from English to Indonesian, Thai, and Vietnamese, and vice-versa
  • Facilitates conversion in English, Chinese, Spanish, Arabic, Turkish, Russian, and French
  • Artificial Intelligence(AI)powered customer service chatbot
  • Special digital inclusion called ‘Smart Touch’ for visually impaired shoppers
  • Use of IoT(Internet of Things) and Blockchain technology to verify the purchases
  • Pop-up stores with AR(Augmented Reality) and VR (Virtual Reality) shopping experiences
  • Predictable electric consumption and power usage of data centers through machine learning
  • Interactive treasure hunts and immersive augmented reality games to earn credit points and prizes
  • Strong integrations with brands – offline and online, product launches, and smart logistics strategies
  • Data, insights, cloud computing, and artificial intelligence to boost sales

A Global Shopping Phenomenon With Demographically-Targeted Marketing Strategy

That’s incredible, here’s how:

  • Alibaba is a global trade platform with the tight incorporation of brands, stores, and retail chains
  • It offers free membership to attract more retailers and customers
  • Lower prices along with quality products to capture the attention of users
  • As China is the largest internet market, Alibaba Group is leveraging digital ways to attract customers
  • A long-term, stable relationship between suppliers and buyers locally and internationally
  • Encourages customers by gifts, credit points, free gifts, discounts, promotions, lucky draw, and games
  • Strong mobile marketing strategy by offering coupons in the apps to promote the purchase
  • Strategic planning to create excitement and engagement for today’s hyper-connected customers
  • Marketing gimmicks that appeal young shoppers with a fresh approach
  • Creates a funny, engaging, entertaining and interactive shopping experience
So, what are the key takeaways for you?

Things Retailers Can Learn From Alibaba’s Strategy

  • Blur the lines between online-offline commerce

Provide omnichannel customer experience for more flexibility, convenience, and to increase the standards of your service level.

  • Lure your customers by providing great deals and discounts

Customers often get attracted by the higher rate of discounts. Taobao Marketplace and Tmall provided 50% or more for that one-day.

  • Make sure the technology you are using is well-supported

Run infrastructure tests of your channels well before D-day. Alibaba was able to process 710 million payments – 85,900 transactions/second in 24 hours.

  • Make a strong mobile presence

Boost your online sales on D-day with the help of a strong mobile website/app to ease the buying process.

  • Offer free gifts and incentives for the first time consumers

Focus on your customers and provide them with some incentives/ reward points to increase the loyalty.

  • Provide early-bird discounts

Early bird discounts always catch attraction! It provides just another reason to kick off sales in just a few hours when the sale begins.

  • Make the most of Social Media Platforms

Leverage the popular social media platforms, run contest, polls, communicate, reach them through paid ads.

Triple 11 Event: What’s Next?

This time, Alibaba organized 10th Singles’ Day celebration and created a history.

With the advancement of technologies, the eCommerce industry continues to grow and indicates no points of its declination. So, in the upcoming year, we are anticipating higher records and profitable trade across the world with the 11th year celebration of this global shopping festival.

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