Let’s take a break from Amazon today and talk about another eCommerce monolith – Alibaba. This past Saturday marked Alibaba’s 8th annual Singles' Day shopping event, and by all accounts it was quite a successful one (to put it mildly).
The original version of Singles' Day was created by Chinese university students back in 1993, marking a day to celebrate people without partners. It got the name "Singles' Day" because the date 11.11 consists of four ones – reminiscent of four single individuals.
Personally, I think it looks like two couples standing together. But whatever.
In 2009 Alibaba commercialized the day (as retailers are inclined to do) by turning it into a major, nationwide shopping event, and since then the 24-hour event has become a global extravaganza, featuring a live-broadcast gala, virtual games, an interactive fashion show and, of course, deals on virtually everything you could imagine. The event has even taken the holiday shopping sprawl that the Thanksgiving shopping season in the US has seen to a new level, with deals starting over 20 days in advance.
Nicole Kidman with Alibaba Chairman (and ceiling enthusiast) Jack Ma at the Singles' Day Gala: Prime Day may have had new offers "as often as every 5 minutes", but did they have Nicole Kidman??
Why does this matter? Well, this year shoppers spent a whopping $25.4 billion dollars on Alibaba in the 24 hour period that is officially Singles' Day. That’s billion with a “B”. About 90 percent of transactions were done via mobile and, at its peak within the first hour, Alibaba processed 325,000 orders per second. Wut???
Let’s put some context around that. Amazon does not release sales information for Prime Day or other sales events, but Internet Retailer estimated that Prime Day 2017 sales would top $2 billion worldwide. Cyber Monday in the United States reached $3.45 billion in online sales last year. The projected 2017 GDP of Iceland is $23 billion.
Let’s just say that Singles' Day has officially become the largest shopping event in the world. And, not wanting to be left out, brands worldwide have already begun riding the Singles’ Day coattails. This year British Airways released a viral video on Twitter encouraging their followers to book a solo adventure on Singles' Day, while many other brands participated by promoting their own sales on the day.
Source: Market Track Advertising Data
It looks like Singles’ Day could be poised to become a worldwide shopping event, not just an Alibaba one. Just what we need, another holiday season shopping frenzy…