Alibaba to take Singles' Day global

17 October 2014

SHANGHAI: Singles' Day, an unofficial Chinese holiday on November 11 and the world's single biggest shopping day, is about to go global under plans announced by Alibaba, the ecommerce giant.

The annual sales event is significant for China's ecommerce vendors and Alibaba last year sold a record 35bn yuan ($5.7bn) in just 24 hours, Want China Times reported.

This figure dwarfed last year's Cyber Monday sales in the US which amounted to $2.29bn, itself a record for US e-retailers.

Building on the attention brought on by its recent $25bn IPO, Alibaba wants to turn Singles' Day into a worldwide shopping festival and intends to use its English-language AliExpress platform to assist with this task.

Wang Yulei, the CEO of Tmall, Alibaba's B2C site, outlined the company's plans in an article on the Sina Tech website, with excerpts translated by Tech in Asia.

"This year for Singles' Day, our core keyword is globalisation. Starting from this year, future Singles' Days will definitely not just be for consumers in a particular region, Singles' Day will be for the whole world.

"In the past there was only the traditional method of creating a domestic brand, opening retail shops and sales channels, and it was a long process. But with the internet, this can be accomplished quite quickly.

"So that is our goal for this year's Singles' Day: the first step is globalisation," he said.

Alibaba will co-ordinate activity across Tmall, Taobao and its other ecommerce platforms, and has secured the confirmed participation of more than 200 overseas vendors from more than 20 countries, Wang said.

Singles' Day started off as a joke in the early 1990's when students from Nanjing University chose November 11 as its date because 11/11 resembles four single people.

However, as TradingFloor.com pointed out, making 11/11 a day for a global shopping spree might be seen as inappropriate in some Western countries because it coincides with Remembrance Day.

Data sourced from Want China Times, Tech in Asia, TradingFloor.com; additional content by Warc staff