Alibaba smashes 2017 Singles' Day record with US$30.8bn in sales

Alibaba Group garnered US$30.8 billion of gross merchandise volume (GMV) on Singles' Day, marking a 27% increase compared to 2017 and 230 countries and regions had completed transactions. Meanwhile, the total GMV settled through Alipay was US$30.8 billion, also a 27% increase from last year.

More than 180,000 participated in the 11.11 shopping festival, including Nike, Adidas and L’Oréal and 237 brands exceeded about US$14.38 million in GMV. These include international brands such as Apple, Dyson, Kindle, Gap, Estée Lauder and Nestlé. Meanwhile, over 40% of consumers made purchases from international brands.

Alibaba's logistics company, Cainiao Network, processed more than one billion delivery orders, and the top countries selling to China were Japan, the US, South Korea, Australia and Germany. Lazada also participated in 11.11 as part of the Alibaba ecosystem, bringing the festival to consumers in Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, the Philippines and Vietnam.

Lazada saw more than 400,000 participating brands and merchants, with the first delivery arriving 90 minutes after midnight. Also, more than five million viewers and 50,000 fans in Malaysia and Thailand joined the Lazada 11.11 Super Show. Arena audience and viewers participated in live game sessions, variety show-styled skits and performances from local and international celebrities including Korean boy band KARD, Thailand celebrities Bella Ranee Campen and Janie Tienphosuwan.

Meanwhile, over 50 million vouchers were given through popular games including "Shake It, Slash It, Wonderland" campaign pages and voucher channels in the run up to Lazada 11.11 Shopping Festival.

Daniel Zhang, CEO of Alibaba Group, said participation from the entire Alibaba ecosystem enabled the brand and merchant partners to engage with consumers like never before. "Today we witnessed the strength and rise of China’s consumption economy and consumers’ continued pursuit to upgrade their everyday lifestyles. Looking ahead, Alibaba will continue to lead the evolution towards the future digital economy and lifestyle," he said.

“We are fired up to continue building an inclusive and sustainable e-commerce ecosystem in the region with the goal of supporting eight million eCommerce entrepreneurs and SMEs to grow and thrive by 2030. Today, Lazada 11.11 Shopping Festival represents Southeast Asian shoppers’ aspiration for quality consumption, it also reflects how our consumers and sellers have fully embraced e-commerce as a way of life,” said Pierre Poignant, Lazada Group’s executive president.

Which brands came out on top?

According to statistics from Meltwater, Amazon garnered the most share of voice (34%) in Singapore, followed by Lazada (27%), Qoo10 (21%) and Shopee (15%). Among the list of trending topics included "sales - page", "official", "singles" and "Alibaba".

Mimrah Mahmood, regional director of media solutions, Meltwater APAC, said that as expected, Singles’ Day has continued its growth as one of the biggest shopping holidays in the region - and it is extremely reflective of the changing way consumers are shopping.

"In line with this change, brands have this year doubled down harder on digital-first marketing strategies like influencer marketing and social selling. However, many of these channels are still relatively new - and we fully expect e-commerce players to continue innovating and coming up with creative new ways to leverage these new ways of selling," Mahmood said.

Industry players also weighed in the success of Singles' Day, with some saying that 11.11 is a good marketing opportunity for raising brand awareness if brands do it well. Richard Nicoll, Publicis Communications’ chief shopper marketing officer in Greater China, said while 11.11 is massive in mainland China, it is still not as important in Hong Kong.

This is despite the increasingly visible media investment from the likes of Alibaba. "Brands and retailers need to work harder to understand the retail micro-climates of key cities within the Greater Bay Area to maximise the e-commerce opportunities," he said.

Meanwhile, Tom Blackman, director of Asia, Zendesk, said the success and exponential growth of Singles' Day underscores how e-commerce is changing the retail game, largely by shifting shoppers’ expectations of customer service. Customers now want seamless communication available 24/7 across a wide variety of channels that gives them the answer when and how they want it, whether it is via self-service or facilitated by an agent. Couple these expectations with a surge in sales, and you have a perfect storm for your customer experience teams to manage, Blackman said.

"Brands need omnichannel customer support solutions that help you scale your operations by managing incoming customer requests while making existing customer service teams more efficient and empowered," he added.

Read also:
Shopback study: 11.11 awareness in Malaysia spikes with Lazada reaping benefits
Singles’ Day: Just another marketing gimmick?