Alibaba breaks Singles Day record

Alibaba has broken its Singles Day sales record half way through the 24-hour discount period.

Alibaba made 57.1 yuan (£5.91bn) from sales on Singles Day last year and it broke through this record today 11 hours and 50 minutes into the event.

Singles Day is the world's biggest online shopping event which occurs annually on 11 November – the choice of the date reflecting the four single digits (11/11). It has grown over the last half decade since Alibaba heated up marketing around the event, but other Chinese retailers also take part.

As of 2.05pm China Time – 14 hours into the event – Alibaba had sold over £6.5 billion worth of goods online. Alibaba said 70% of these orders were made via mobile devices, and by 2pm, mobile payments settled through the e-tailer's Alipay service totalled £4.7 billion from over 70 million buyers.

By this time, Alibaba had received 310 million delivery orders, exceeding last year's overall total of 278 million.

Adrien Nussenbaum, CEO of marketplace solutions provider, Mirakl, said Single Day trumps Black Friday because it offers, price, choice and service.

“It uses its marketplace to offer an unbelievable array of products, more than six million across 180,000 stores, a volume most retailers can hardly comprehend, let alone hope to match. Online marketplaces enable Alibaba to offer a very large, complementary choice of products to customers and reduces the risk of shortages. Crucially, it does this while not requiring high – and costly – inventory. Alibaba has amassed the largest vendor selection in China on its marketplaces, and is making sure customers get the best selection and price, thus remaining the go-to company for both affluent and price-conscious customers."

Nussenbaum added that UK retailers are starting to take part in the Chinese shopping event using the Alibaba platform.

"But they must remember that selling on one of Alibaba’s sites has little to do with the sites we’re used to in Europe. Everything is different, from the conversion funnel, the payment process, the way products are merchandised. That’s also why going through Alibaba is also an opportunity for retailers not to think about how they should do it when they are selling on their own – but to focus on having the stock, the price, and being ready to ship. If a retailer’s goal is to leverage the Alibaba channel to sell on a super savvy Singles Day, it should focus on processes more than appearance.”

Meanwhile, CTO at BT Expedite, Mike King, said that despite the scale of the event, it is run efficiently, without any major issues on or around the day – unlike Black Friday in the UK.

"This year’s Singles Day event is predicted to involve 1.7 million couriers, 400,000 vehicles and 200 planes making deliveries of all sorts of products. This gives an insight into preparation and back-end infrastructure that goes into successfully facilitating a major shopping event," he said. "As UK retailers prepare for this year’s Black Friday event, investing in the necessary solutions to ensure customers have the best experience possible is essential. A robust eCommerce platform and collaborative warehousing (where retailers have a single view of stock across every channel), for example, can go a long way to maximising sales opportunities and ensuring customer satisfaction. Failure to invest in the necessary solutions could lead to a repeat of website failures and fulfilment issues of dogged last year’s event and put many customers and retailers off any further participation in these events."