Alibaba’s Singles Day sales top $30 billion, up 27 percent from 2017

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In its 10th year promoting an unofficial Chinese holiday celebrating singlehood, Alibaba’s online sales hit a record $30.8 billion (RMB213.5), exceeding last year’s record by 27 percent.

Singles Day is a holiday in China that began in the 1990s and has quickly become the largest shopping event, dwarfing Cyber Monday, Amazon Prime Day and other major shopping events. While the event began in China, it has quickly spread to other countries. This year the festival expanded to Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, the Philippines and Vietnam. Top selling countries to China included Japan, the United States, South Korea, Australia and Germany.

Alibaba, the Chinese e-commerce giant, has been promoting Singles Day for the last 10 years with great success, promoting its Tmall and Taobao online marketplaces as places to shop. Compared to the US$30.8 billion of gross merchandise volume (GMV) Alibaba customers spent on Nov. 11, 2018, Americans spent a mere $6.59 billion on online sales during last year's Cyber Monday, with Black Friday ringing in at $5.03 billion in online sales, according to Adobe.

“Today we witnessed the strength and rise of China’s consumption economy and consumers’ continued pursuit to upgrade their everyday lifestyles,” Daniel Zhang, CEO of Alibaba Group, said in a press release.

Last year Singles Day hit a record, exceeding 2016 sales by 40 percent. Bloomberg reported that in 2017 approximately 90 percent of sales were done through mobile devices and that at its peak, Alipay was processing 256,000 transactions per second.

As the event grows in sales and expands to other countries, merchants and consumer goods manufacturers are quickly becoming aware of its value and are seeking to cater to consumers participating in the holiday. Top brands sold through Alibaba this year included Apple, Dyson, Estee Lauder, Nestle, Nike and Adidas.

The cross-border sales volume is also being aided by companies such as PPRO that have enabled consumers wishing to make purchases in using an alternative payment method such as Germany’s Sofort and the Netherlands’ iDEAL. Recently PPRO partnered with ChinaPay to bring bring over 15 European alternative payment methods to ChinaPay’s Chinese merchants.

“While Black Friday and Cyber Monday are top of mind for U.S online merchants, Singles Day is an even bigger opportunity for global growth. The global online shopping festival — originally coined as an 'anti-Valentine’s Day' celebrating singles — takes place on November 11 with a day full of socializing and lots of spending,” stated Steve Villegas, vice president at PPRO.

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