The Chinese shopping holiday Singles’ Day falls on 11 November. It’s been popularized as a ‘global shopping festival’ by Chinese ecommerce superpower Alibaba, and gets bigger every year. This time, Alibaba reports that US$25.3 billion of gross merchandise volume was settled during the event.
The US$25.3 billion GMV earnings represents an increase of 39 percent compared to 2016, when it raked in US$17.8 billion.
Singles’ Day falls on November 11 because ’11:11’ is thought to resemble a group of single people. Alibaba Group chief executive Daniel Zhang says the Alibaba brand Tmall first promoted the event as encouraging lonely single shoppers to console themselves with a gift, but as Singles’ Day grew in scale, it became more universal.
“Today, 11.11 is not only a day for Tmall, but also a day for all consumers, not just in China, but around the world. We’re happy to see more overseas merchants join us and more overseas customers participate in the event. Consumption has no boundaries. Every person needs to consume.”
The event that Alibaba has developed Singles’ Day into since 2009, when just 27 merchants participated, is now staggering. There’s now a gala to celebrate the official launch featuring appearances from A-list Hollywood celebrities like Nicole Kidman, Pharrell Williams, Maria Sharapova and Jessie J, among others; and over 140,000 brands and merchants participated.
Alibaba’s global shopping festival took two minutes and one second to break US$1 billion in gross merchandise volume. Within the first hour, Alibaba’s payments system Alipay processed 256,000 payment transactions per second at peak, and more than 60 brands each generated more than RMB100 million (US$15.1 million). These included international brands like Apple and L’Oreal.
Mobile payments settled through 91 percent of total GMV throughout the event. The top-ranking countries selling into China during Alibaba’s global shopping festival included Japan, the United States, Australia, Germany and South Korea.
“More than US$25 billion of GMV in one day is not just a sales figure,” says Zhang. “It represents the aspiration for quality consumption of the Chinese consumer, and it reflects how merchants and consumers alike have now fully embraced the integration of online and offline retail.”
Alibaba is describing its mobile-heavy mix, which also incorporates bricks and mortar retail, ‘new retail’.