Alibaba, China’s largest e-commerce giant, racked up massive sales on “Singles Day”, crossing over $25.3 billion (￥168.3 billion). Singles Day, launched by the company in 2009, has grown to be the largest e-commerce event in the world exceeding sales of Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
Singles Day dates back to the 1990s when Chinese college students began their own sort of “Valentine’s Day” for the single folk. The e-commerce event, also known as Double 11, kicked off at midnight 11th November 2017 and set a new record in sales this year as customers spent billions on goods ranging from diapers to diamonds.
Last year, Alibaba recorded a total of $17.8 billion at the end of the 24-hour sale. This year, within the first one hour, retailers on the Alibaba site clocked in $1 billion in sales. 18 hours later, the gross sales recorded through the online payment system, Alipay, was close to $21 billion. At the end of the sale, Alibaba hit a new record, as it does every year, of $25.3 billion. This marks a 32% increase year-on-year.
China holds the top position among the largest e-commerce markets in the world, with their share of online consumer spending growing every year. Such events display the high spending power of Chinese consumers which plays a very crucial role for retailers and manufacturers across China. A giant chunk of the annual orders for many businesses come from such events. Singles Day also sees high transaction volumes as people delay their purchases for months and wait for a good bargain on the site.
There are some such as Greenpeace who oppose Singles Day, terming it as a disaster for the environment, as e-commerce is a carbon-intensive business compare to brick-and-mortar operations. The number of packages that went out in 2016 resulted in 130,000 tonnes of packaging waste, out of which an estimated 10% was recycled.
However, on the other hand, Alibaba has also provided a platform for many individuals from villages and interior towns to sell their products and uplift themselves. Such villages are now known as Taobao villages that used strategies to re-orient their local trade to manufacturing for online sales. Alibaba’s main e-commerce platform, Taobao.com, saw more than 90% of the Alipay orders on Singles Day.
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