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China’s Blockbuster Singles Day Highlights Alibaba Logistics

China celebrates its largest ecommerce holiday, the 11.11. Shopping Festival, on Tuesday, but the company behind it hopes the annual shopping extravaganza will become a true global shopping event in five to 10 years.

Alibaba launched Singles Day, as it’s also called, in 2009, and it caught the attention of retailers around the world 2 years ago when it surpassed Cyber Monday sales, reaching the equivalent of $3.1 billion.

Last year, sales reached the equivalent of $5.7 billion in gross merchandise value on Chinese sites Taobao Marketplace and Tmall.com, which attracted more than 402 million unique visitors during the 24-hour period.

Like its American cousin Amazon.com, Alibaba has been ramping up logistics networks to keep pace with shopper demand. In this case, for example, over one million courier personnel will be mobilized to deliver parcels in China for the 11.11. Shopping Festival.

Alibaba Group spokesperson Candice Huang said the company is making 11.11 a global event this year. It’s able to do that in great part to collaboration with more governments, banks and postal services, according to Alibaba Group COO Daniel Zhang.

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So big is the 11.11. Shopping Festival in China that PayPal is embracing it this year.

Some examples of Alibaba’s growing logistics capabilities: China Smart Logistics, a consortium of Chinese shipping and package-delivery companies in which Alibaba holds a 48% stake, is working with China Post to ensure Chinese merchants hosted by AliExpress can deliver to more than 220 countries.

China Smart Logistics also operates warehouses serving Tmall Global merchants in the U.S., Germany and Australia to ensure that goods are quickly shipped to China.

China Smart Logistics will also work with Singapore Post; international courier companies like EMS, DHL, Fedex, UPS and TNT; and 14 domestic courier companies to ensure speedy delivery of merchandise to Chinese consumers.

Large brands and retailers in the U.S. can participate in Singles Day by making their products available to Chinese consumers through Alibaba’s Tmall marketplace. (And see the PayPal blog post referenced above.)

Smaller online merchants in the U.S. can participate in Singles Day by sourcing product from the AliExpress marketplace that day. The AliExpress 11.11 Shopping Festival will begin at midnight Pacific Standard Time on Nov. 11 and ends 24 hours later. AliExpress merchants will offer 50 percent discounts on one million products. 5,000 products include free international shipping. And shoppers can play games on the AliExpress website to earn virtual coins that will give them bigger discounts.

We wondered if U.S. consumers would be able to participate in Singles Day through Alibaba’s new U.S marketplace, but there’s no marketing for the holiday on 11 Main’s website (11 Main.com), and a spokesperson for 11 Main did not respond to our email inquiries.

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Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. She's a widely cited authority on marketplace selling and is author of "Turn eBay Data Into Dollars" (McGraw-Hill 2006). Her blog was featured in the book, "Blogging Heroes" (Wiley 2008). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to ina@ecommercebytes.com.