China’s Singles’ Day sales surge in the early hours

November 10, 2015 02:38 PM

Several Alibaba executives, including chairman Jack Ma, made a sign of nine by hand when the Singles’ Day sales started at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday  in China, suggesting they hope sales could top 90 billion yuan ($14 billion) in this 24-hour online sale event.

Although Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. didn’t publish estimates for Singles’ Day sales, $14 billion seemed achievable for Alibaba, which generated $9.3 billion sales on the same date in 2014. To put that in context, U.S. shoppers bought $2 billion worth of goods last Cyber Monday, the Monday after Thanksgiving that was the biggest U.S. online shopping day in 2014. This year, within 18 seconds, sales on Alibaba’s marketplaces reached 100 million yuan ($16 million), with 80% of orders placed from mobile devices. A little more than an hour in, Alibaba’s sales exceeded 30 billion yuan ($4.7 billion), according to the company  

Singles’ Day is a marketing initiative that Alibaba created to spur single consumers to buy goods for themselves, as opposed to other marketing days where consumers are buying for loved ones (Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day and so on). The date in Arabic numerals—11-11—inspired the Singles’ Day, also known as Double 11, designation.

“Last year, sales after two hours reached 18 billion yuan. Based on the sales in the first hour, the final 24-hour sales result could reach 90 billion yuan ($14 billion),” says Lu Zhenwang, a China e-commerce expert and CEO of Wanqing Consulting. 

Sales weren’t the only thing happening fast. It took just 14 minutes for a consumer in Beijing to receive the TV the customer ordered. Alibaba’s logistic service company, Cainiao Network Technology, had processed 100 million shipping orders in the first 43 minutes this year compared with last year when it took about 8 hours to reach same volume, according to Alibaba.

Alibaba’s payment affiliate, Alipay, says at peak levels so far, it has processed 85,900 transactions per second, which is 200% higher than the peak flow of transactions last year.

An hour after Singles’ Day started, “45 million shoppers visited our site in the peak time and more than 90% of them came from mobile,” Alibaba vice president Zhang Jianfeng said. “The sales in every category are significantly better than last year. Many brands have sold 60% of their inventories and some brands even sold out all inventories.”   

For more Chinese e-retailer information, please click here for the Internet Retailer 2015 China 500.



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