Alibaba Group Holding Limited’s annual Singles’ Day sales event is held on the 11th of November. The origin of Singles’ Day comes from the event’s date, 11/11 or “double eleven,” which references the number one as it relates to being single and not in a relationship (one is the loneliest number after all). When it first occurred in 2009, it was a kind of anti-Valentine’s Day when single people could splurge and purchase gifts for themselves. In its more recent years, Singles’ Day has welcomed all, regardless of their relationship status, and has turned into a major online shopping event where consumers across the globe can buy name brand items at discounted prices. Because of its worldwide popularity, this ‘single’-day sales event was eventually rebranded into the Global Shopping Festival in 2015 as it became more like a “holiday season celebrated by merchants and consumers worldwide.”
This year immediately yielded huge numbers, with the company reporting $17 billion dollars (120.7 billion yuan) in just the first hour and a half alone. The first nine hours has yielded $22 billion dollars (158.31 billion yuan) and many project the sales to beat 2018, which brought Alibaba approximately $30 billion dollars worth of sales from Singles’ Day.
Although it’s often dubbed as China’s equivalent to Black Friday and Cyber Monday, Singles’ Day is much bigger. This year, within the first 68 seconds of the event, Alibaba Group achieved their first $1 billion in sales, and at the half hour mark, they recorded their first $10 billion in sales. After their first 24 hours, they surpassed the previous year’s record of $30.7 billion in sales with approximately $38.4 billion. In comparison, last year’s Black Friday grabbed just under $25 billion in total sales over a five-day period, while Cyber Monday, for example, had less than $8 billion.
Over 200,000 brands are participating, one million new products are on offer and more than 500 million users are expected to participate in this year’s festival – about 100 million more than last year. Estimated consumer savings from brand and platform promotions and coupons are around RMB 50 billion.global shopping festival 2019 / alibaba group
Although Alibaba is a Chinese e-commerce site, nearly half a billion shoppers participate around the world as they bolster their global reach through their multiple websites dedicated to handling sales between China and specific global regions, with Hong Kong, US, Australia, UK, and Japan accounting for some of the international buyers that take part.
“This year, both buyers and merchants have more than doubled and we’ve already seen a series of record-breaking moments. We’re looking forward to sharing even more good news.”Yin Jing, Co-President of Lazada, a Subsidiary of Alibaba Group
The event’s launch included a countdown celebration gala that was broadcasted from the Shanghai Mercedes-Benz Arena. Musical performances from Jackson Yee, G.E.M. and Taylor Swift, along with a live stream with Kim Kardashian, helped to promote sales further on the evening before the big day. Also, something noteworthy about this year’s event is that co-founder and former chairman Jack Ma was not present as he recently resigned in September of this year, which coincidentally lined up with the company’s 20th anniversary since it was first established.
Alibaba’s CTO Jeff Zhange described the event as an
“Airplane flying at turbo speed.”Jeff Zhang, CTO of Alibaba
Additionally, he attributed this speed to the company’s biggest focus of making this “airplane” more efficient.
The 2019 event is particularly significant in regards to the continued US and China trade war, with many Chinese companies riddled with uncertainty about the future of their businesses, yet according to what Richard Wong, Head of ICT for APAC, stated to Bloomberg TV, “Alibaba will probably be the one that will be able to circumvent and come out from the trade war in better shape”.
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