Alibaba’s Singles’ Day sale on November 11 was truly one for the books, breaking e-commerce records with S$42.3 billion (US 30.8 billion) in sales in just 24 hours. While the sales total marked a considerable increase from 2017 when sales reached S $34.8 billion, the company’s yearly sales growth is the lowest in the 10 years since it began.
Alibaba has enjoyed tremendous success with its 11/11 Singles’ Day sales. In comparison, in 2017 in the United States, Black Friday sales totaled US $5 billion, while Cyber Monday sales amounted to US $6.6 billion, making November 11 the biggest day for shopping in the whole year.
Some statistics for this year’s Singles’ Day sales include:
—Over one billion delivery orders made, compared to 2017’s 812 million
—More than S $6.45 billion gross merchandise volume (GMV) within the first 10 minutes of the sale
—Within the first 85 seconds, sales reached S $1.38 billion as pre-ordered items are purchased
—Within the first 10 minutes, sales reached more than S $6.45 billion gross
—With the first hour, sales reached S $13.8 billion, at an even quicker time than last year
—Overall sales were up by 21 percent
—Sales involved 180,000 brands across 200 countries
However, the fact that this year’s sales record was broken nearly 16 hours after the event begun, as opposed to about 4 hours in the year before, may be a telltale sign that the company’s future may not be as rosy as it seems.
Alibaba’s sales growth has decreased from 39 percent to 27 percent, recording its slowest rate in the 10-year history of Singles’ Day. This figure is within the low end of what experts had predicted.
Alibaba’s slowed growth may be due to trade tensions between China and the United States, which has weakened the economy in China. The e-commerce conglomerate adjusted its sales outlook for 2018 by 4 to 6 percent in October, affecting Alibaba’s stock price, which already dropped by 16 percent this year, in stark contrast to having nearly doubled last year.
The company is now receiving less in commissions for the time being in order to stay attractive to new consumers as well as keep existing brands.
Sales for large appliances is also down this year, something that has coincided with a slowdown in the housing market. According to Joe Tsai, the vice chairman of Alibaba, “If people aren’t buying new homes, they aren’t buying appliances.”
Other threats to Alibaba’s domination of e-commerce have been events from competitors such as JD.com Inc., which also holds big sales in June and on Singles’ Day. Singapore-based site Lazada, which is popular across the region, has also held its own sales.
However, sales for small appliances as well as cosmetics remained strong on Singles’ Day, and Alibaba has been attracting new buyers from more rural areas, and large cities such as Beijing and Shanghai also show growth in sales.
Company executives proclaimed their reasons to rejoice. Daniel Zhang, the company’s Chief Executive and is widely believed to have originated the concept of the Singles’ Day sale, told the press, “Today we reached 200 billion (yuan). But we have to change. We have to continue to change to reach 300 billion or 500 billion.”
Zhang will be taking over the helm of Alibaba in 2019, when he takes over from Chairman and founder Jack Ma.
The event was kicked off with a celebration that included performances from Mariah Carey and Cirque du Soleil.