Alibaba‘s annual 11.11 festival, also known as Singles’ Day, does not seem to have been a great success this year. The e-commerce giant did even release total sales figures, a striking contrast with the usual jubilant reports.
Along the same lines
For years, Alibaba has been carving out Singles’ Day as a highlight for online consumption, with sales figures dwarfing Amazon’s Prime Day and Black Friday in the West. The original day, then weekend, has become an 18-day period of bargains, but growth appears to be stalling. Growth had already slowed down last year, with “only” 8.5 % more sales, and now Alibaba is reporting stagnant sales.
Last year, participating brands – many of them Western companies – sold for 76 billion euros through Alibaba’s platforms. Now, the figures are roughly comparable to 2021, the Chinese e-commerce giant says. A total of 290,000 brands participated, the same number as last year.
China is still suffering from Covid restrictions, but is also experiencing “economic headwinds” and supply chain disruptions, Alibaba admits. To continue to appeal to consumers, providers have invested in innovations such as virtual influencers, a record number of product offerings and extensive targeting. “In a futuristic example of the ‘all-out push’, Alibaba sent out more than 700 autonomous delivery robots, twice as many as last year,” the retail platform said.
Yet there was less razzle-dazzle this year, as well as fewer promotions. According to Bain & Co, instead of offering discounts, brands were more likely to use the opportunity to test new products and gather data for the year ahead. They also relied more on exclusive offers, membership models and rewards programmes. For example, skateboard brand Vans released limited edition shoes and Burberry launched a scarf exclusively on the luxury platform Tmall.
The end of November will reveal whether the meagre Singles’ Day was a harbinger of Black Friday – and perhaps even the year-end period – in the West.