How Alibaba is changing the retail landscape

We’ve all been there. Waiting eagerly for the clock to tick down to the magic hour an online store will be offering the latest gadget. But when you and half a million or more people order it at the same time, the online store crashes and your order vanishes like so many lost bytes.

And that’s not all.

In hyperconnected countries like Singapore, potential customers may be using multiple devices from laptops to mobile devices to access websites, further adding to network chaos.

Now imagine this on a much larger scale.

Imagine 1.48 billion payment transactions in 24 hours, with 256,000 being processed a second partner this with 325,000 orders a second processed in the Cloud from 225 countries and regions; and you’ll have an idea of what the Double 11 event is all about.

What makes this even more amazing is that unlike many western countries, 90% of transactions came in over mobile phones.

The event began in 2009 with US$7. 6 million in sales. It has evolved from a 24-hour sales event to a 24-day global shopping and entertainment festival, generating US$17.8 billion in Gross Merchandise Volume (GMV) in 2016.

The 2017 edition of the Double 11 event saw sales soar past US$18 billion after roughly 13 hours, easily eclipsing the $17.8 billion it managed in the full 24 hours last year with eager shoppers managing to spend $1 billion in less than four minutes. It finished after 24 hours with shoppers having spent over US$25 billion.

Shoppers from at least 192 countries and regions swarmed the e-commerce giant to scoop up discounted lobster, iPhones and refrigerators, at a rate of as many as 256,000 transactions per second that makes the event larger than others such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

Eight hours after the start of the event, 82 brands had passed sales figures if US$15 million. Some of these brands include Apple, Xiaomi, Nike, Uniqlo, Huawei, Philips, Zara, and Sony.

By the end of the event more than US$25 billion in sales had been made from over 140,000 participating merchants and brands, easily passing the sales volumes of previous years.

And China wasn’t the only place taking part in the Double 11 event in Asia.

Online merchants in South East Asia also saw increased sales according to commerce marketing technology company Criteo. They found that shoppers are starting to purchase as early as 7 November, with a 29 percent increase in sales. The momentum continues with an average of 65 percent increase in sales through to 31 December.

Overall retail sales peaked on 11 November, with a 254 percent increase with mobile transactions accounting for 73% of transactions.

“We are seeing rapid year-on-year growth for Singles Day. To effectively engage with shoppers during this sales season, retailers need to place the shopper at the centre of everything by putting data into action at every point of the purchase journey. They must tap into an open commerce marketing ecosystem and use machine learning to connect shoppers to the products they need and love, and engage with them at the right time. By doing so, shoppers will be able to purchase what they want at the best value, which drives increased sales for retailers,” said Alban Villani, General Manager, Southeast Asia, Hong Kong and Taiwan, Criteo.

Beyond Asia, analysis of payment data from seamless payment firm Ingenico showed that growth was particularly strong in Latin America, North America, Russia, and across key markets in Europe.

Russian consumers, for instance, completed more than 10 times as many transactions on Singles’ Day as on an average day. They also spent significantly more per transaction than they would normally, with a 35% increase in Average Transaction Value. Together this represents an almost 15-fold increase in total spending.

In Europe, consumer awareness and participation in Double 11 sales varied wildly from market to market. Among the biggest shoppers were the Spanish, where the number of transactions was almost 5 times higher than normal. France and Germany found themselves in the middle of the pack, with transactions increasing by 54% and 15% respectively. In the UK, transactions with Chinese merchants, who are the key drivers behind the success of Double 11, were up 10-fold on the day.

“Double 11 has grown to become the biggest one-day online shopping event in the world, but we’re still only at the beginning. The rest of the world is just discovering the great shopping opportunities on offer,” said Nick Tubb, ePayments General Manager in APAC for Ingenico Group. “Chinese merchants have been the driving force behind the success of Double 11, and we are very proud to work with so many of them on the exciting journey of taking Double 11 beyond China and into the rest of the world.”