Singles' Day (11.11)

Alibaba looks to turn Singles’ Day into an international affair

Overseas business reported 60pc year-on-year growth last year, against an overall sales rise is 32pc

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 31 October, 2017, 9:39pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 01 November, 2017, 12:11am

Alibaba Group Holding has pledged to turn this year’s Singles’ Day shopping spree into an international affair, with plans to promote 100 indigenous brands abroad, and offer more foreign products and services to mainland buyers.

The Hangzhou-based company expected the pace of growth in international transactions will be faster than its domestic sales. Its international business posted 60 per cent year-on-year growth last year, against an overall sales increase of 32 per cent.

International growth will be bigger as the e-commerce giant looks to export what it calls as the “China phenomenon” in retail to other parts of the globe.

Alibaba Singles’ Day shopping frenzy exceeds US$16.8b to break record

“It will not only be a shopping festival for Chinese, but it will attract more foreigners to participate because commerce is a borderless world,” said Alibaba chief executive Daniel Zhang Yong. “We want the ‘China phenomenon’ to spread to the whole world.”

Alibaba, which owns the South China Morning Post, did not disclose its targets for this year’s November 11 online shopping festival, but Zhang said the event would help the company better promote its globalised ecosystem.

Singles’ Day, which has developed into China’s premier national shopping festival, was introduced and trademarked by Alibaba in 2009.

It will be not only a shopping festival for Chinese, but attract more foreigners to participate because commerce is a borderless world. We want the ‘China phenomenon’ to spread to the whole world
Daniel Zhang Yong, Alibaba’s chief executive officer

It has eclipsed the annual Black Friday shopping activities after Thanksgiving Day in the US, and become the world’s largest online shopping event.

Mainland and foreign consumers snap up everything ranging from consumer goods and air tickets to cars on Alibaba’s Taobao Marketplace and shopping platforms, as merchants in these site offer huge discounts to spur sales.

Alibaba's Singles’ Day sales last year rose 32 per cent to US$17.8 billion, following a 54 per cent jump in 2015. In 2014, sales climbed reached US$9.3 billion.

Analysts, however, predict sales growth during the shopping festival to slow in the coming years due to the high base of previous years.

Alibaba to spur fresh growth with new services, partnerships as part of its e-commerce platforms

But imported products and quality services will become the new bright spots, buoyed by mainlanders’ rising affluence, analysts said.

Last year, consumers from more than 200 countries took part in the shopping bonanza, and international transactions grew 60 per cent from a year ago, according to Alibaba.

Liu Ping, general manager of Tmall’s global businesses, told the Post that international transactions would eventually catch up with domestic sales in terms of absolute volume during the Singles’ Day festival.

“The festival will be completely globalised,” he said. “At present, we have some obstacles to overcome, such as the trade barriers and language.”

About 140,000 retailers used Tmall last year to sell their products and services outside the mainland.

Alibaba has signed partnerships with 100 Chinese brands, such as garment maker Peacebird and Paradise Umbrella, to actively promote their overseas sales for the upcoming November 11 event.

Alibaba’s unveiled its globalisation ambitions just a week ahead of US President Donald Trump’s visit to China, which is scheduled from November 8 to 10.

Top state leaders are expected to pursue improved trade relations between the two countries when they meet.

A short kung fu film starring Alibaba founder Jack Ma Yun, alongside action stars Jet Li, Donnie Yen and Sammo Hung Kam-bo, will also be released on November 11.

Li, who produced the film, said he waited three years for a chance to take advantage of the shopping event to drum up awareness of tai chi and Chinese culture.

Tai chi is a traditional Chinese martial arts that Ma has pursued for decades.