Alibaba poised for record sales on China's biggest shopping day

November 11 marks the biggest online shopping day of the year when the mainland's top players offer discounts to mobile and social media users

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 06 November, 2013, 4:54am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 06 November, 2013, 4:54am

The mainland's biggest e-commerce services providers are expected to post record sales on Monday, known as "Single's Day" - the biggest shopping day of the year for consumers as mobile internet and social media users boost transactions.

November 11, also referred to as the "Double 11" shopping festival, has become the most important date for e-commerce players on the mainland to push promotional campaigns, draw increased attention to their online retail sites and expand market share.

In a Barclays report published yesterday, lead author Alicia Yap, the firm's head of China internet research, said: "We believe the total sales volume this year is likely to reach another record for the major players, with particular attention focused on the Alibaba Group.

"We expect that [use of] mobile devices could drive overall [e-commerce] transaction volume higher."

Alibaba's two leading online shopping platforms, Tmall.com and Taobao Marketplace, achieved a record total gross transaction value of 19.1 billion yuan (HK$24.2 billion) on November 11 last year, up 260 per cent from 5.3 billion yuan a year earlier.

"Mobile e-commerce is becoming increasingly popular. We expect this to increase significantly this year, and have taken technical steps to stabilise and optimise the shopping experience for users via the Tmall.com mobile app," an Alibaba spokeswoman said yesterday.

The mobile transactions generated by business-to-consumer retail site Tmall.com and consumer-to-consumer shopping portal Taobao Marketplace during Double 11 last year accounted for 940 million yuan of their combined sales volume on that day.

The prospects of that volume rising is driven by the mainland's growing number of mobile internet users, which research firm Analysys International has forecast to exceed 700 million this year.

Online shopping on Single's Day was started in 2009 to provide good deals to consumers during a period when no sales promotions are available from traditional offline retail channels on the mainland. It has been compared to "Cyber Monday", a campaign created by marketers in 2005 to encourage more people in the United States to shop online and enjoy discounts on merchandise the Monday after the Thanksgiving Day holiday.

The 19.1 billion yuan in sales generated by Tmall.com and Taobao Marketplace on Double 11 last year surpassed the US$1.46 billion total sales recorded on Cyber Monday on November 26 last year.

Mainland social networking sites, such as Tencent's WeChat and Sina Weibo, "could test their effectiveness and influence on the e-commerce promotional campaigns" for Double 11 this year, the Barclays report said.

Tencent, the mainland's biggest internet company, has announced about 700 million yuan in cash rewards through its business-to-consumer platform 51buy.

Barclays said Alibaba, which bought an 18 per cent stake in Sina Weibo for US$586 million earlier this year, has been advertising its Double 11 promotions on that site and giving away free gifts to users who share their online shopping experiences on Weibo.