By the time the countdown clock stopped at midnight on Sunday 11.11.2018, Alibaba has announced that their revenue for this edition of Singles Day had reached RMB 213.5 billion ($30.8 billion). This represents a 27% increase over the 2017 figure ($25.3 billion). The growth rate, however, is notably lower than before (22% compared to an average growth rate of 69% over the last 5 years). Nevertheless, Alibaba sales revenue for 2018 Singles Day event is still very impressive and remains the highest performance to date in terms of e-commerce sales revenue within a 24h event by a single retailer.
Singles Day (a.k.a Bare Branches Day or Anti-Valentine’s Day) on 11 November started as an unofficial celebration day in honor of being single. The event is popular among young mainland Chinese. The date 11.11 resembles four bare branches and symbolizes the single relationship status. On this day, single people hang out together and celebrate their loneliness! It is also a chance for “single and available” individuals to meet and get to know each other.
In 2009, Alibaba Group – Chinese e-commerce giant – adopted the event as a Chinese version of America’s Black Friday. They aimed at raising awareness of merchants and consumers towards e-commerce. Other online retailers like JD or Amazon China have quickly adapted to the event due to its significant success. Consequently, Alibaba trademarked many related terms, including “Double Eleven”; “Double Eleven Carnival” and “Double eleven online shopping carnival”. The event has evolved from 24 hours promotion event to 24 days online shopping and entertainment festival, organized and announced by Alibaba Group under the name “11.11 Global Shopping Festival”. The first edition of the festival was in 2015.
In 2017, Alibaba has achieved approximately $25.3 billion in just 24 hours of sales on Singles Day. Over the last 5 years (2013 – 2017), the sales have increased by a mind-blowing 69% annual growth rate, starting with $5.7 billion in 2013. The sales revenue of Alibaba on Double 11 is approximately 5 times higher than the U.S. Black Friday sales record in 2017 ($5.03 billion).
As China Singles Day grows in fame year over year, more brands and manufacturers want in. There will be 180,000 brands participating in 2018, 40k more than in 2017.
Check out our infographic for a more complete review on China Singles Day over the years.
Over the years, Alibaba Group has taken initiatives to expand the event globally (transactions in 225 countries in 2017). However, some economic analysts noted that it is still not perceived as a global event for overseas customers; Alibaba is still, as they put it, “sourcing global, selling China”.
Despite the rapid growth and incredible online sales revenue on Chinese Single Day, there are many criticisms from consumers and analysts regarding the event.
Online buyers claimed that many deals are just tricks. In some cases, the sellers increased prices before rediscounting them. Sometimes, the discounted rates could be even higher than the regular rates.
We tried to look into some deals on Aliexpress — Alibaba B2C e-commerce site that targets international clients — and found that many products listings have either insignificant discounts or even higher than usual prices! Here is one example:
I actually placed this order more than 2 months before 11.11.2018. At the time, the listing price was $11.01/piece, without any promotions.
3 days before the China Singles Day, I came back to the same product page and found this:
The seller claimed the original price to be $18.66 and is offering an exclusive price of $10.82 for 11.11 event, which is only 19 cents lower than the price that we paid 2 months ago. This small experiment is just 1 example drowned in millions of product listings on the website. Therefore, buyers should pay more attention and do some research before the promotion day, to avoid the risk of “fake” discount.