Alibaba's Singles' Day is retail gold

Kelvin Reese
November 12, 2017

These sales were added towards the total sales for Singles' Day.

Since then, the online sales extravaganza has become an annual 24-hour shopping ritual, and the largest of its kind in the world.

Alibaba's platforms saw a billion dollars in sales volume hit in just two minutes.

With a focus on retail as entertainment, this year is expected to be bigger with more add-ons including augmented-reality games, shopping tours and virtual fitting rooms.

This was 29 percent higher than 2016, when the online shopping company made $17.8 billion.

While there is no definitive explanation on the origins of Singles' Day, it is believed by many to have been conceived in the 1990s as a day for China's legions of unmarried young adults to celebrate their lack of romantic commitments.

The event, now indulged in by all consumers whether with or without a better half, takes pride of place in the calendar of manufacturers and retailers in the country, making up a significant share of annual orders for many businesses.

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Such objections are, however, not likely to hold Alibaba back from its push toward expanding "Singles Day" onto the global market.

Mobile transactions account for 93 per cent of transactions so far this year, a further lift from the whole-day average of 85 per cent in 2016. At its peak, the company's processors handled 256,000 transactions per second.

Alibaba ( BABA ) racked up another huge take from its "11.11 Global Shopping Festival", but JD.com ( JD ) also enjoyed a sales windfall.

Just like United States versions of the shopping holidays, Alibaba offered discounts on a variety of goods, from household items to electronic gadgets to clothing to beauty supplies.

The company has converted about 100,000 retail stores to "smart stores", which will allow consumers to receive tailored shopping experience with the use of facial recognition, "cloud shelf" and location-based store and discount recommendations among others. "I have often emptied my "shopping cart" on Singles Day", Zheng said.

"This is just the start".

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