How Alibaba continues to revolutionise retail in China

Lucy Aitken

Alibaba not only dominates e-commerce in China, it's also changed habits, behind-the-scenes logistics and retail experiences. One way it has changed how people shop is through introducing new occasions to encourage them to spend. The most prevalent is Singles Day, now a global shopping event which it helped to create. On Singles Day 2016, Alibaba sales broke $5 billion in just one hour and $12 billion in 12 hours; total sales were $17.8 billion – that's a 27% increase from 2015's $14 billion.

Singles Day takes place on 11 November every year in China. While the day had existed in China since the 1990s – when young singletons bought themselves presents to celebrate their single status – it was only when Alibaba decided to hijack it in 2009 as a shopping event that it become a retail frenzy to rival Black Friday. Recognising the all-important entertainment factor in retail, Alibaba also parachutes in stars to help promote the event: this year David and Victoria Beckham and Scarlett Johanssen added a touch of glamour to the proceedings.