Supply Chain Matters provides a follow-up to our ongoing blog commentaries related to China’s Singles Day online shopping event that occurred this weekend. Indications are that this year’s event shattered all previous online sales records and provided added milestones for integrating online and in-store merchandising.

Coverage published by Internet Retailer cites data from Chinese E-commerce research firm Syntun indicating that in-total, Singles Day generated $38.2 billion in online sales this weekend. China’s online leader Alibaba accounted roughly 70 percent of holiday sales while rival accounted for a reported 16.4 percent. Other online players according to the Synturn data included electronics and home goods retailer Vipshop accounting for 4.2 percent of sales and Amazon China accounting for 2.2 percent.

While there is some context to these numbers, namely that they represent gross merchandise value (GMV) vs. discounted value, they none the less provide added reinforcement for declaring the globe’s largest single online sales event. The largest single day online event in the United States was Cyber Monday 2016 which recorded a reported $3.5 billion in one-day online sales.

Alibaba reported online sales of $25.3 billion in GMV, up 39 percent from year-ago levels, with a reported 90 percent of order volume emanating from mobile platforms.

The online event was yet another test of Alibaba’s logistics network. At its peak, Alibaba reportedly processed 256,000 order transactions per second. Its logistics arm, Cainiao Network processed 812 million delivery orders, an increase of 23 percent over last years reported 657 million delivery orders. One online photo we observed was a street sidewalk in Shanghai strewn with parcels being sorted for urban delivery or consumer pick-up and pay.

In total, the online provider processed nearly 1.5 billion payments, some of which utilized facial recognition technology. Payments volume was up 41 percent year-on-year. In the first two hours, revenues registered $11.9 billion. As noted in our prior commentary, for this year’s Singles Day holiday, Alibaba’s merchandise teams integrated both online and offline retail experiences including pop-up smart stores and merchandise sampling and giveaways.

According to ZD Net, more than 140,000 participating merchants, including 60,000 international brands participated in this year’s event.  Smartphones and appliances were noted as some of the top-selling items. Japan, Australia, and Germany were noted as among the countries with the most sales selling into China during the online holiday.

China’s Singles Day indeed established a new benchmark for a single day online shopping event along with new practices and learnings in integrating online and physical shopping experiences. From a logistics and transportation lens, increased levels of automation and supply chain inventory management in large-scale fulfillment of orders is still underway as parcels make their way to their final destinations. We should know more about these factors in the coming days along with any increases in customer returns.


Bob Ferrari

© Copyright 2017. The Ferrari Consulting and Research Group and the Supply Chain Matters® blog. All rights reserved.