Tuesday, 18 December, 2018

Alibaba Singles' Day tops $30bn but growth rate plunges

Love Bonito is slashing up to 70 per cent off their prices online for 11.11 Love Bonito is slashing up to 70 per cent off their prices online for 11.11
Jodi Jackson | 12 November, 2018, 06:56

Online shoppers spent $45.7 billion (US$30.8b) on Sunday during China's annual shopping festival, setting a new sales record for the 24-hour shopping event.

Singles Day was originally set aside as an unofficial day for China's unmarried, but Alibaba latched on to it a decade ago as a shopping promotion akin to the late-November US "Black Friday" retail crush.

"We can feel that merchants are fully embracing the internet and helping with consumption upgrade", Daniel Zhang, Alibaba CEO told reporters in Shanghai. With a cooling economy, saturated markets and competition from smaller platforms such as JD.com and Pinduoduo, Alibaba is seeking new growth engines.

This year, Alibaba said there were around 180,000 brands participating in Singles Day, and as of 8:00 p.m. on Sunday sales were nearing $27 billion.

Alibaba reportedly picked the date to organise a huge online sale to drum up revenues in what was traditionally a slow period between National Day in September and the Lunar New Year in February.

The chief executive, who takes over from a retiring Ma as chairman next year, must prove he can carry on that legacy. "People are very interested, I think partly because they have heard of Black Friday and Cyber Monday and they think that's quite big". It has become the largest offline and online shopping day in the world. First popularized by college students, November 11 emerged as an antidote to the sentimentality of Valentine's Day.

This month, Alibaba cut its sales forecast for the year ending in March by around 5 percent, citing the wobbly economy and the trade war.

Indeed, Alibaba slashed the price of its Tmall Genie speaker from RMB499 ($74) to RMB99 ($15) during Singles' Day 2017 to drive sales. Chinese online retail sales growth slowed to 24 percent in the third quarter, down 12 percentage points from the previous three months, according to the National Bureau of Statistics. Worldwide expansion will be a key plank of Zhang's effort to keep breaking records.

With sales dwarfing those of Black Friday and Cyber Monday in the USA, the festival has become the largest of its kind globally. Popular items purchased overseas included mobile phones, wool coats and knitted sweaters.

Shoppers in China have once again broken records after spending more than $14bn within the first two hours of an annual online buying frenzy.

At the same time, Alibaba's efforts to push into the US are sputtering.

"That trend is not going to stop, trade war or no trade war". But in its relentless ambition, Alibaba may be Amazon's only global equal.

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