As sellers in North America are gearing up for some of the busiest online shopping days of the year, Chinese sellers are experiencing their peak day today, November 11th. Last year, Alibaba’s “11.11 Shopping Festival” day in China, or “Single’s Day” as it’s also called, surpassed Cyber Monday last year to become the world’s biggest online shopping day of the year.
This year, many Western brands are attempting to capitalize on the 11.11 Shopping Festival in China through Alibaba’s Tmall.com website, including Microsoft, Gap and Toys “R” Us. Information about selling on the site is available on this Tmall page, and a company called Export Now is helping American companies build flagship stores on Tmall, dealing with language, regulations, logistics and distribution on behalf of merchants and brands.
To prepare for this year’s shopping event, Alibaba Group increased its network bandwidth to 5 terabtyes, up from 2.1 terabtyes last year, to handle the traffic load expected on Nov. 11. In addition, Alibaba’s logistics partners planned to build or renovate more than 150 distribution centers, increase storage and warehouse space to more than 2 million square meters (that is 373 football fields), and increase hiring of logistics service personnel by 60 percent compared with 11.11 last year.
In an effort to bridge the gap between online and offline shopping in traditional brick-and-mortar stores, this year Alibaba Group enabled brands on Tmall to extend their promotional activities to 30,000 real-world outlets in China. Shoppers in China can go to stores to check out merchandise in person, then scan a QR code with their cellphones to purchase the item. On Nov. 11, consumers automatically receive the appropriate online discounts when they click the “buy” button.
Last year, Alibaba Group’s online shopping platforms Tmall.com and Taobao Marketplace recorded sales of more than RMB 19.1 billion ($3.1 billion) on 11.11, which doubled the 24-hour online sales record of $1.5 billion on Cyber Monday in the same year. Single’s Day launched in 2009 with 27 participating merchants, and almost 10,000 merchants participated in 2012.
Update 11/11/13: Alibaba said it processed approximately $5.7 billion in gross merchandise value via Alipay for Taobao Marketplace and Tmall.com on Monday, representing a 83% year-on-year increase over last year. The websites attracted more than 402 million unique visitors during the day.