This year’s Singles’ Day in China brought Alibaba Group another record-breaking sales volume further underlining the importance of China’s e-commerce sector. According to the e-commerce giant, consumers purchased goods worth $74 billion during the campaign. This is an increase of 26% year on year and slightly higher than market expectations.
But record breaking is nothing new for Alibaba. Since the Chinese e-commerce giant defined November 11 as “11.11 Global Shopping Festival” in 2009, Alibaba has broken the sales record every year.
Unlike in previous years, Alibaba for the first time set up an early sales window from November 1 to 3 in order to “help new brands and small businesses take part in the event”.
Singles’ Day China – more than “just shopping”
The shopping festival originally evolved from an unofficial holiday to celebrate the life of singles. Over the years, Alibaba has successfully orchestrated the Singles’ Day to a mega event. Buyers are not only attracted by steep discounts, but also by live streaming sessions with additional offers and concerts featuring international pop stars. This year Katy Perry performed three songs – virtually, however, because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Live streaming e-commerce is booming in China and therefore played an increasing important role in this year’s event. According to Alibaba, more than 300 celebrities where interacting with their customers and fans in numerous live streaming sessions. To warm up for presales, a physical runway presentation in Shanghai was live streamed with more than 6 million views within an hour.
Taobao, the consumer-to-consumer (C2C) online shopping platform of Alibaba Group, also took part in this years’ Singles’ Day. Over 30 live streaming channels generated more than $15 million in gross merchandising volume (GMV) each, according to Taobao. Yu Feng, head of Taobao Live, expects live streaming e-commerce to become a trillion-dollar market. iiMedia estimates the market to reach $129 billion this year.
Future of e-commerce in China
This year’s Singles’ Day in China can be seen as an indicator of the confidence of Chinese consumers in the economic upturn.
“A piece of recent research from FitchRatings suggests that Chinese consumer spending is set to accelerate in the fourth quarter of 2020, underpinned by a faster recovery in the offline segment and a boost to consumer spending from the Singles’ Day shopping festival”, says Lynda Zhou, Portfolio Manager at Fidelity International.
“Looking forward to 2021 however, our expectation is that as things slowly return to normal in a post-pandemic world and offline activity continues to recover, online sales growth will flatten. Sales are unlikely to be as strong in 2021 as compared to the first half of 2020, when e-commerce was a beneficiary of the pandemic”, Zhou concludes.