Three days out from China Singles’ Day, retail experts are predicting Alibaba’s annual e-commerce sales event will continue to set records.
With the Chinese online giant expanding it to a 24-day shopping and entertainment bonanza, the global marketing hype is likely translate to record cross-border e-commerce demand, according to marketing research company eMarketer Retail.
Global payments processor Worldpay has released new data showing that last year’s event grew by 39 per cent globally. When sales peaked, Worldpay was processing 44,505 payments a minute.
Meanwhile, more and more international brands have been opting to participate in this year’s 11.11 shopping festival.
Worldpay’s transaction data supports findings from the Global eCommerce Leaders Forum (GELF), which revealed the rise in consumer spending power in China is translating into growing sales on international e-commerce sites as growing numbers of shoppers seek genuine products from trusted global brands.
Retailers in Australia and Hong Kong are seeing the fastest growth, with sales rising by 105 and 71 per cent year on year respectively, says Worldpay. While the volume of sales has plateaued in Mainland China, the average spend per purchase continues to rise at a rate of 9 per cent.
“Since its inception as a local celebration of singledom, Singles’ Day has risen to become the world’s top grossing-online shopping holiday, and the event knows no boundaries,” says Worldpay Asia Pacific GM Phil Pomford.
“For international businesses looking to break into the huge Chinese e-commerce market, November 11 should be an important landmark in the calendar year.
eMarketer Retail analyst and editor-at-large Andria Cheng agrees. “For international brands this event will continue to mark Alibaba’s biggest pitch and showcase for them to get on board its platform and test the waters regarding Chinese consumer demand and promise,” she says
“The fact more than two-fifths of this year’s 140,000 brands at the shopping extravaganza come from outside of China speaks to the continued international hope and bet that Chinese consumers will pick up the slack left by the slowing domestic growth for many brands.”
According to marketing technology company Criteo, sales on Singles’ Day have increased threefold, with shoppers browsing online up to four days earlier.
“This makes it the main sales peak of the season, impacting most retail categories, and is a major opportunity for both shoppers and retailers,” says Criteo GM Alban Villani, who covers Southeast Asia, Hong Kong and Taiwan.
Analysing more than 5.1 million online transactions in Southeast Asia between October 1 and December 31 last year, it found that retail sales spiked by 254 per cent on November 11.
Between November 9 and 12 there had been a rise of 28 per cent in average online traffic on key retail companies’ websites, and shoppers had started buying as early as November 7.
Shoppers are increasingly buying via apps, accounting for nearly half of all transactions and 73 per cent of mobile transactions.
Meantime, a forecast from eMarketer Retail shows that retail e-commerce sales in China will grow by 33.1 per cent this year to reach $1.13 trillion, representing 23.1 per cent of total retail sales.
Retail m-commerce, which includes products and services ordered via mobile devices, will increase by almost 42 per cent in China this year, reaching $881.96 billion, and accounting for nearly three-quarters of all retail e-commerce sales, says eMarketer Retail.
Alibaba says $18.2 billion worth of products were sold on its platforms during Singles’ Day last year, up 32 per cent from the previous year. By comparison, says eMarketer Retail, JD.com’s 618 Festival, which involved 18 days of discounts from June 1 to 18, was reported to have brought in $17.6 billion this year.
Worldwide e-commerce sales are expected to reach $2 trillion this year. Almost half of these sales will be generated by consumers in China. eMarketer Retail says retail e-commerce sales worldwide will increase at four times the rate of retail sales this year, jumping 23.2 per cent to $2.2 trillion.
Also, Alibaba has overtaken Google this year to be the second company to Facebook for display ad revenue, with a spend of $14.62 billion.
Meanwhile, Worldpay has advice for retailers opting in to the Alibaba festival… “To turn browsers into buyers, it is essential to tailor the online shopping experience to local tastes. For Chinese consumers, this means focusing on your mobile proposition. Shoppers expect to use their preferred payment option – increasingly e-wallets like Alipay and WeChat Pay.”
For Singles’ Day last year, Worldpay processed a total of 14.9 billion transactions altogether worth £451.1 billion (US$594.1 billion).
Worldpay provides payment technology and services to about 400,000 customers. It can process payments across 146 countries and 126 currencies, helping its clients accept more than 300 different types of payment.