Single’s Day: China’s $25 billion shopping festival explained

This Sunday is November 11, an auspicious date within the Chinese tech community because it marks Single’s Day, the world’s largest online shopping day. This year is particularly poignant since it will be the tenth edition of the annual event — also known as Double Eleven — since it was created by Alibaba, the Chinese e-commerce giant.
Single’s Day is huge business today. Alibaba sold more than $25 billion in goods last year as 11.11 moved outside of China into other regions within Asia and beyond. The company has consistently grown its sales tally year-on-year, so it’s fair to expect $35 billion or more in trading to take place this Sunday even though there are doubts over China economy and an ongoing trade war with the U.S.
We’ve dug into the phenomenon so that, this year, you’re well prepared on what to expect.

What is it?

The event is akin to Black Friday and Cyber Monday in the U.S. but it is 2.5 times larger than both of those dates put together. Alibaba discounts a range of products across its online sales platforms which include its Taobao marketplace, Tmall store for brands, AliExpress international services and — more recently — its global businesses. Those include Lazada in Southeast Asia and India’s Paytm, which counts Alibaba and Ant Financial as major investors.
The sale covers obvious goods like smartphones, TVs and other big ticket consumer items but also fashion, clothing, furniture, health products and more. The less expected items that sell well include cleaning products, toilet paper and daily perishables. There’s also a strong demand for cars among other things.
In total, Alibaba saw 1.48 billion transactions worldwide last year with a peak of 325,000 orders per second. Its Alipay payment service clocked 1.5 billion payment transactions with total orders reaching 812 million. All the while, a dominant 90 percent of sales came from mobile devices — that’s well ahead of the U.S. which saw 37 percent during Black Friday and 33 percent on Cyber Monday.
Single’s Day: China’s $25 billion shopping festival explained
Alibaba’s 11.11 sales passed a record $25 billion in 2017 (Image via Alibaba)
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