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Singles Day Finds Its Omnichannel Match

Nitin Sumangali |

It’s hard to find the nuances and understatements when one retail company takes in $14 billion in one day. However, for Singles Day, Alibaba and China, one fact seems to have been overlooked. While Singles Day is a testament to eCommerce power and potential, Singles Day was not just eCommerce. It was omnichannel.

First. Let’s get to those numbers. The Nov. 11 holiday took in $1 billion in its first eight minutes. By comparison Black Friday 2014 hit $1.5 billion for the whole day according to comScore. The estimates were for about $10 billion in sales for Singles Day, but the preliminary returns are in and they’re even more impressive.

The company has said the total value of goods bought during the Singles Day festival was $14.3 billion dollars. Two big numbers (aside from the very big $14.3 billion) jump out from this announcement, though. First, this sales figures is up 60 percent from 2014. More impressive however, is that 68 percent of the total value of transactions came through orders from mobile devices. This means that even big ticket items are being purchased through mobile phones and tablets, as consumers are not seeing a difference between ordering via a PC and ordering from a mobile device. Global Insights’ Omnishopper study talks about a number of these related themes and how they’re impacting shopping behavior in China and other key global markets.

Another interesting twist this year came from the offline area, which syncs with our recent report. Our key findings reported that 80 percent of global respondents (and 90 percent in China) use technology at some point during the shopping process. It also indicated that consumers are still warm to in-store shopping as they seek immediate gratification and social experience. Alibaba executives went on the record to stress their desire to take Singles Day offline this year.

Alibaba induced more than 180,000 storefronts to participate this year, representing more than 1,000 retail brands. In Beijing alone, more than 8,000 stores will take part in the festival. Even U.S. brands such as Macy’s took part via Alibaba’s Tmall store.

Alibaba is also helping retail partners maximize the after-sale. For example, it is setting up Tmall service stations in more than 1,600 Suning stores (the Chinese version of Best Buy) to manage service issues including returns and exchanges.

It’s not yet known how much of this year’s Singles Day take was online or offline. Here’s a new way to look at it, though. What if the channel didn’t matter? Alibaba has made it numbers and scaled its growth by creating a new business model and proving that a marketplace would entice consumers. Now it is essentially saying “eCommerce is limiting.” Growth will be achieved by marketing to the consumer, not the channel. Even if there’s $15 billion on the table.

Topics: Economic Outlook, Mobile, Payments Strategy, Retail Trends

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