Date
19 November 2017
Alibaba staff celebrate as sales during the company's Singles Day shopping festival surpass 168 billion yuan. Photo: AFP
Alibaba staff celebrate as sales during the company's Singles Day shopping festival surpass 168 billion yuan. Photo: AFP

Alibaba reports US$25.3 bln in global Singles Day sales

Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.’s Singles’ Day generated a record 168.2 billion yuan (US$25.3 billion) in sales, as the e-commerce giant worked with more traditional retailers to sell cut-price goods from at least 225 countries and regions.

Chief executive Daniel Zhang said the company wants to make the event more global, and is planning to take its gala overseas soon, without giving a time frame, Bloomberg reports.

The world’s biggest online shopping event, held on November 11th of each year as a celebration among young people who are proud of being single, posted a 39 percent jump in sales, exceeding Citigroup Inc. estimates and defying concerns of an economic slowdown, the report said.

That’s nearly double the sales from Black Friday and Cyber Monday in the United States combined, according to technology news website The Verge.

To boost transactions, Alibaba hosted a star-studded gala with film star Nicole Kidman and American rapper Pharrell Williams.

The event helped at least 82 brands top 100 million yuan in sales with Nike Inc., Xiaomi Corp. and Uniqlo Co. among the biggest winners.

“We want to make Singles’ Day a more global event,” Zhang told Bloomberg in an interview in Shanghai. “We could take the gala overseas very soon.”

About 90 percent of transactions were done via mobile. At its peak, the company’s processors handled 256,000 transactions per second.

Citigroup earlier predicted transactions would rise by more than 30 percent to 158 billion yuan this year.

“The work that’s been done in the integration of offline and online, not just in terms of the technology integration, but the data and efficiencies for brands and the consumer through personalization has been enormous,” Alibaba president Mike Evans said in an interview on Bloomberg TV. “We see the impact of it in our day-to-day business.”

The mega shopping event is part of Alibaba founder Jack Ma’s efforts to revamp China’s US$4 trillion traditional retail sector with technology.

Alibaba teams have fanned out across the nation before the event to help outlets – some 600,000 mom-and-pop convenient stores and about 1,000 brands – upgrade their computer systems.

Those retailers, many in prime city locations, will become delivery and storage centers.

To connect a 10th of China’s six million convenience stores to the internet, Alibaba uses an app called Ling Shou Tong, meaning “connect retail”, Bloomberg said.

Convenience stores are given suggestions on what to procure and how to display merchandise. The goods are shipped from dedicated Alibaba warehouses, skipping middlemen. 

The company is also converting 100,000 retail outlets into so-called smart stores. Brands including Levis and L’Oreal are taking part. If one shop runs short of certain inventory, customers can track availability at other locations. They can also get goods delivered to their home.

Alibaba has spent billions buying into grocers, shopping malls and even department stores years before Amazon announced its US$13.7 billion acquisition of Whole Foods Market Inc. 

Alibaba is already starting to see the initiative trickle into the top line. Revenue from new retail – mainly its Hema supermarkets and Intime department store – more than quintupled in the September quarter, the report said.

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