Alibaba has just smashed its own sales record last year with a phenomenal USD8 billion in sales at its annual 11.11 Singles Day sale on Saturday. The Chinese e-commerce mammoth took just 2 minutes to hit the first USD1 billion (MYR4.1 billion), and within two hours it had recorded sales in excess of USD12 billion (MYR50.2 billion).
By mid-day, it already surpassed its last year’s record of USD17.8 billion (MYR74.5 billion). The Straits Times reported that Alipay was processing 256,000 payment transactions per second, doubling last year’s mark.
While orders and transactions happen, Alibaba’s robots, drones and artificial intelligence do the heavy lifting to fulfill orders.
To say it’s a big event for China is an understatement. One a celebration for China’s single people, the event has become an annual 24-hour shopping extravaganza. Shoppers around China scout for bargains with major discounts and flash sales.
Its scale is so massive that it exceeds the combined sales for Black Friday and Cyber Monday in the US. To put things in perspective. Cyber Monday generated USD3.4 billion (MYR14.2 billion) in onlines sales last year.
Rising disposable incomes of China’s over 300 million middle-class consumers help drive online sales.
While numbers are impressive, China’s online retailers like Alibaba and JD.com are facing challenges. Firstly, they have to spend more to compete for shoppers in a broader economy where growth is slowing.
Online retailers are forced to push offline and overseas to attract new shoppers. There are concerns whether the current rapid growth can be sustained. The recently-concluded one day sales did exceed analyst forecast of 20 percent growth.
Alibaba said it turned 100,000 physical shops around China into “smart stores” where people can peruse goods in-store then pay for items via Alibaba’s platforms. I’ve personally seen this concept work in Taiwan.
11.11 Singles Day isn’t just celebrated in China nowadays, with countries in Southeast Asia jumping on the bandwagon, too. In Malaysia, online platforms like Lazada, 11Street, Shopee and leading online cashback platform ShopBack got into the thick of the action as well.
So, did you shop till you dropped on 11.11? What did you buy?