Countdown to the world’s biggest shopping day…

It’s less than a month until the world’s single biggest shopping day… But if you don’t live in China you may never have heard of it.

Singles Day started out as a joke among Chinese university students, writes C Custer of China geeks in a column posted on November 11th is the opposite of Valentine’s Day, because of all the number ones in the date. But over the past few years, Chinese ecommerce shops have turned it into something like Cyber Monday. Only bigger.

Last year’s Singles Day saw Chinese shoppers obliterate US Cyber Monday sales. Consumers spent US$5.7 billion on Alibaba’s shopping platforms and another US$1.6 billion on Jingdong – all in just 24 hours!

This it should be no surprise China’s etailers are already preparing for this year’s Singles Day shopping bonanza. And according to Tmall CEO Wang Yulei, who wrote an article on Sina Tech about Alibaba’s plans for this year, this year is all about going global.

“This year for Singles Day, our core keyword is globalisation. Starting from this year, future Singles Days will definitely not just be for consumers in a particular region; Singles Day will be for the whole world,” wrote Yulei.

“Everyone knows the internet is flat and this can’t just be a thing of the past. In the future, we’re going to offer better products to the entire country and to the entire world,” he wrote.

“What is the common point this year in the foreign media attention on the Chinese market brought on by the Alibaba IPO, Alibaba’s important cooperative agreements with many countries, such as France, Italy and Germany; and Jack Ma’s agreements with many countries? It is that these countries see the massive potential of the Chinese market.

“In the past there was only the traditional method of creating a domestic brand, opening retail shops and sales channels – and it was a long process. But with the internet, this can be accomplished quite quickly.

“So that is our goal for this year’s Singles Day: the first step is globalisation. We want consumers to be able to buy products from all over the world and Chinese people all across the world to be able to buy the products they need.”

That is a lofty goal and it will be interesting to see how Alibaba attempts to realise it once November 11 rolls around. The technology likely won’t be a problem but logistics certainly could be: will Tmall be able to offer fast and inexpensive global shipping to its overseas customers? We’ll have to wait and see. If not, the appeal of its extremely reduced prices will be sufficiently diminished.

Separately, Wang also noted that Alibaba also expects this to be a big year for mobile sales on Singles Day. “I can brazenly predict that PC and mobile will be about 50-50 this year, although I don’t mean 50-50 in terms of sales volume but rather in terms of user awareness,” Wang wrote.


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