Single’s Day shopping shows young generation’s favour
No event offers a better view into the changing nature of the mainland’s online shoppers than Singles’ Day, and the picture that emerged this year was that buying is shifting dramatically to mobile devices.
Online shoppers bought 120.7 billion yuan (US$17.79 billion) worth of goods on November 11 through the Alibaba Group’s e-commerce platforms, up 32 per cent from last year and a new high.
Purchases made through mobile devices surged 49 per cent, to hit US$14.6 billion, accounting for 82 per cent of total gross merchandise volume, also a record, according to Alibaba data.
The company’s online payment system, Alipay, processed more than 1 billion transactions in total, or about 120,000 per second at the peak. “This year’s [event] is a preview of the future of retail, where entertainment, commerce and interactive engagement intersect seamlessly,” said Daniel Zhang, Alibaba’s chief executive officer. “The young generation born after 1990 is becoming the main source of consumption. They have a vastly different lifestyle and consumption pattern,” he said.
International brands also saw big gains, with sales jumping 47 per cent on the back of more than 47 million buyers, Zhang said. Apple, Nike, New Balance, Playboy and Skechers were the most popular US brands, while Europe’s Siemens, Philips, Adidas, and Japan’s Uniqlo, Panasonic and Sharp were also among the favourites, Alibaba data shows.
“International brands find the event a fantastic opportunity to build new connections with Chinese customers,” said president Michael Evans. As many as 14,000 international brands including Burberry had opened stores on Tmall.com and took part in the event, he said.
Alibaba’s sales record was slightly lower than the market expectation of 125 billion yuan, according to a Post survey of five analysts tracking the company. GMV growth was lower than last year’s 60 per cent increase.
In New York, the company’s shares closed 1.43 per cent lower at US$92.99 on Friday, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average inched up 0.21 per cent. Alibaba’s shares are up 14.4 per cent overall this year.
Smaller e-commerce rivals also did well. JD.com said sales by Friday 1.33pm had exceeded the level recorded for the entire 24-hour period last year, according to a post on its Weibo account.
Suning Yigou, an e-commerce platform that focuses on home appliances, said sales had jumped 129 per cent by 8pm on Friday.
Alibaba chairman Jack Ma played down the importance of the final GMV figure in a speech shortly before midnight, saying the event was “not about a number only”.
The metric was “misleading” because it undervalued the company’s wider ecosystem, he said, according to Reuters.
The US Securities and Exchange Commission has been looking into data from last year’s promotion, responding in part to concerns that the total may include sales faked by third-party merchants or transactions that haven’t been paid for, Bloomberg has reported.
Alibaba owns the South China Morning Post.