Alibaba sets new record for Singles’ Day – outsells Amazon’s Prime Day total in 10 minutes!
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Alibaba sets new record for Singles’ Day – outsells Amazon’s Prime Day total in 10 minutes!

Chinese tech titan Alibaba held its annual Singles’ Day online shop-a-thon last weekend. Observers have been fretting about the event, wondering whether pressures on the Chinese economy – including the on-going trade dispute with the U.S. – would weigh on sales. The answer to that question turns out to have been a simple ‘no’. In fact, this year’s Singles’ Day didn’t just live up to its past – it exceeded it dramatically.

On November the 11th, Alibaba logged 213.5 billion yuan ($30.7 billion) in sales. During the first ten minutes of the day, it gathered more revenue than Amazon’s Prime Day event. For any investors late to the party, 2018 has made one thing quite clear: Singles’ Day needs to be marked on your calendar.

This year was a challenge. In addition to the worries that some investors harboured over the Chinese economy, Alibaba has spent a decade breaking its own Singles’ Day records – the comparables are getting harder and harder to beat. But given that this is the last one that the company’s founder, Jack Ma, will oversee himself (he’s stepping down from the helm in favour of his right-hand man, Daniel Zhang), success was important. When superstar entrepreneurs step away from the company’s they create, investors need assurance that the business is in rude health and good hands.

Alibaba’s answer to the increasingly difficult comparables it faces has been to integrate all the areas it can into one, major, event. That means online and offline, TV entertainment (this year saw Mariah Carey and Cirque du Soleil top the bill), and anything else the company can throw together. To rick (under)stating the obvious: it worked. And the company isn’t short on strategy for the future: Ma and Zhang want to take Singles’ Day global. That, however, remains a challenge for another year. Or rather, years. The company announced its international ambitions for the event three years ago, but the journey is still just beginning.

At the Singles’ Day event, Jet Jing, president of Tmall (one of Alibaba’s main online retail sites) said: “Alibaba is making use of all of its platforms to make Singles’ Day a holiday that also includes dining and entertainment. We’re connecting online shopping with offline physical outlets.” You can learn more about the story behind Singles’ Day in yesterday’s story on the subject.


Dominion holds Alibaba in its Global Trends Ecommerce Fund.

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