Millions Begin Nov 11 'Singles Day' Online Shopping Orgy

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HONG KONG: Singles’ Day, marked as a calendar item every Nov 11 since 2009, is promoted by Alibaba Group Holding as a 24-hour shopping gala, where hundreds of thousands of brands from China and around the world offer steep discounts on its Taobao market place, and Tmall online stores.

How did it start?

The first Singles’ Day event was launched in 2009. The initial idea was to promote Taobao, a marketplace similar to eBay. Alibaba asked participating retailers to offer discounts of at least 50 per cent. Only 27 merchants took part in the 2009 sale, reporting 50 million yuan (US$7.5 million) in merchandise sold.

Two years later, Tmall was spun out from Taobao’s consumer-to-consumer marketplace business, and became the go-to store for 70,000 international and Chinese brands. Alibaba’s mobile payment affiliate Alipay set a record for the highest daily number of transactions, at 33.69 million.

Why is it a big deal?

With more than 120 billion yuan worth of merchandise sold in 24 hours last year, China’s Singles’ Day is more than 18 times the size of Amazon’s Prime Day and 2.5 times bigger than Black Friday and Cyber Monday combined. Last year, the top countries selling to China by gross merchandise value (GMV) were Japan, US, South Korea, Australia and Germany. It is the largest 24 hours of online shopping on earth, underscoring how Chinese consumers have embraced mobile internet technology, online shopping and e-payment faster than anybody else.

What’s on offer?

Apart from clothing, shampoo and toys, offerings in recent years have extended to vouchers for motor vehicles, overseas trips and even power boats. The top product categories last year were: apparel & accessories, skin care & cosmetics, food & drink, maternity & babies, and mobile phones & digital products. In 2016, the top US brands ranked by GMV included Apple, Nike, New Balance, Playboy and Sketchers, while top European brands were Siemens, Philips, Adidas, Jack Jones and Only.

- SCMP