Alibaba’s Singles’ Day Sales Surge 60 Percent

A Reported 70 Percent of Sales Were via Mobile Devices

Alibaba_lChinese e-commerce company Alibaba reported sales of 91.2 billion yuan ($14.3 billion) during its annual Singles’ Day event, through its own and a couple of partners’ sites. This represents an impressive 60 percent increase over Singles’ Day sales in 2014. In perspective, Cyber Monday sales in the US through all shopping sites reached about $1.4 billion in 2014. Alibaba’s Singles’ Day has become the most important online sales event in the world.

Singles’ Day is a recently contrived Chinese celebration of being single — a sort of reverse Valentine’s Day. But what began as a light-hearted view on temporary relationship statuses has been turned into a major sales event by Chinese online retailers. It took only a few years for Singles’ Day to become an established retail tradition similar to Cyber Monday in other markets.

The event’s success has been enabled by viral excitement and constant connectivity, and a notable 70 percent of transactions during the 2015 event were via smartphones and tablets. This was up from about 45 percent in 2014, providing a clear image of the modern Chinese consumer. Retailers should concentrate on providing a smooth mobile shopping experience.

This year’s celebration was heavily promoted, with Alibaba’s founder and executive chairman Jack Ma appearing on stage with James Bond actor Daniel Craig. Singles’ Day is still primarily a Chinese event, though with participation from many global brands. But Mr Ma sees opportunity in introducing the 24-hour buying frenzy to other markets, likely to start with the UK and US. Alibaba may hope that this approach steals some thunder from online holiday promotions by Amazon, which has learned from Singles Day and set up its Prime Day promotion in July. However, Singles’ Day falls on 11 November, a day of remembrance in many Western countries to mark the end of World War I, and a shopping frenzy wouldn’t sit comfortably alongside ceremonies of respect for military veterans.

Alibaba has demonstrated an amazing talent in maximising the opportunity, having turned a rather obscure day celebrated by younger consumers into the largest modern sales event. As an e-commerce giant in the world’s largest smartphone market, Alibaba is connecting well with tech-savvy mobile users. The company has formed a special and lasting relationship with its customers on Singles’ Day. It’s become a perfect match.

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