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Online Shopping Madness hits China: Singles Day breaks all records yet again!

Posted in Business on November 12th 2013

What started as an anti-Valentine’s Day holiday some 20 years ago, has become the world biggest one-day online shopping spree with total sales through Alipay, the most popular online payment system in China, reaching 35 billion RMB ($5.75 billion) this year. How’s that for a shop-athon?!

The undisputed winners in this online madness are Taobao and Tmall, two of Alibaba’s main E-Commerce platforms in China and which managed to surpass last year’s Singles Day sales of over 19 billion RMB ($3.12 billion). Not bad, huh?

Now, you are probably wondering what the big deal is with the discounts that lure so many people into buying everything and anything on this particular day. Well, if you had just 24 hours once a year to get whatever you wanted at half price or cheaper, wouldn’t you go nuts too? Yeah…I thought so.

Although most Netizens were out there looking for bargains, not everyone was in such a thrifty mood. As reported by Alibaba, a woman from Zhejiang Province bought herself a 13.33-carat diamond, costing $3.37 million. Here in Shanghai, half of the IT Consultis team fell into temptation too and thanks to our awesome Chinese colleagues, we got ourselves a brand new coffee machine – a major necessity for any web design agency if you ask us! Oh and some shoes, and clothes, and apparently also a couch and apples…Don’t ask, I’m confused too!

Just in case you are not impressed enough yet, let’s look at some other incredible numbers that made this day the dream of all online retailers in the world:

11th of November 2013, 12AM: Singles Day sales officially start. Within 6 minutes, 1 billion transactions had already been made, and by 12:38 these had surpassed 5 billion. Interestingly, bras were quite popular, with 1.6 million units sold. Fun fact of the day: if you stacked them on top of each other, the pile would be three times the height of Mount Everest. Maybe Chinese girls are hoping to be off the singles market soon?

Shopping continued non-stop and by just over half way through the day, 17,000,000 people had made a purchase. To put things in perspective, that’s 2.5 times the population of Hong Kong! As soon as the clock struck midnight, Singles Day was over and the all-anticipated grand total was revealed: 35,000,000,000! If the too many zeros made you lose count, that is 35 billion Yuan ($5.75 billion).

Twitter AlibabaTalk 11.11 Shopping Festival

Not satisfied with this and despite – or because of – the mind-boggling success of yesterday’s event, there is one key player looking beyond Chinese consumers to help break even more records. Taobao has recently started targeting foreign buyers through an English language step-by-step guide on how to shop on their platform. I guess we will have to wait until next year to see how this strategy works out.

And just in case Chinese and foreign consumers aren’t enough, or someone missed out, there is already a sister E-Commerce holiday being planned: “Double 12” on Dec. 12. Let’s hope people still have some money left over by then.