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November 12, 2019

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Consumers splash out record US$38b on Singles Day deals

CHINA’S online sales showed their resilience in a vibrant market yesterday on Singles Day, a shopping event entering its second decade.

At the end of the day last night, total sales figure was a whopping 268.4 billion yuan (US$38.36 billion). By 4:31pm, transactions on Tmall had already surpassed last year’s figure — 213.5 billion yuan.

The first Singles Day in 2009 had racked up sales worth US$7.8 million. It has since evolved into a major shopping event.

In the first few hours yesterday, 84 brands had surpassed 100 million yuan in transactions on Tmall.

EMarketer expects China’s online retail sales to grow 27.3 percent to US$1.935 trillion this year in the largest e-commerce market in the world, three times the size of the US e-commerce market.

China has a 54.7 percent share of the world’s e-commerce sales, while the US has just 16.6 percent. Last year’s sales of 213.5 billion yuan were more than double that of Cyber Monday and Black Friday in the US combined.

Singles Day has resonated across Asia to become more than just a domestic phenomenon.

“The sheer scale and excitement in China around Double 11 is spreading across the region and other e-commerce platforms in Asia are looking to China to see how to create these occasions and turn them into entertainment festivals in their own right,” Ashish Bhasin, CEO of Dentsu Aegis Network Asia Pacific, told Shanghai Daily.

“Alibaba is clearly standing out in terms of the strength of their data and how they use this to build their brand and develop a stronger customer acquisition process,” he said.

The key to success for any brand is to gain insights into shopping behavior and then testing hypotheses and learning quickly, he added, and this works best when it is tapped into local culture and needs.

However, Tmall’s growth is gradually losing steam, with sales in 2018 posting a 27 percent increase, compared with the close to 50 percent average annual growth rate from 2013.

Consumers are reluctant to spend on too many things they don’t need as they turn a blind eye to online promotions.

Shanghai resident Sherry Dong said she had only bought daily necessities such as infant formula and other home care products this year.

Hu Luwa, who lives in Shenzhen, said, “To make full use of the coupons sometimes it brings even more trouble as I end up buying things that don’t suit me at all.”

Up to 100,000 products made their debut on Singles Day this year and Tmall’s goal is to eventually foster 100,000 brands, create 5,000 new products with annual sales of over 100 million yuan in the next three years.


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