In­side

China Daily (Latin America Weekly) - - Front Page -

Bar­gain-hunters splurged by spend­ing a record 168.2 bil­lion yuan ($25.3 bil­lion) dur­ing this year’s Sin­gles Day on Satur­day, the world’s largest day­long dis­count gala, as e-com­merce gi­ant Alibaba Group took the on­line shop­ping spree to brick-and-mor­tar stores and be­yond the na­tion’s bor­ders, bank­ing on China’s tech­no­log­i­cal prow­ess.

Spend­ing surged 39.3 per­cent dur­ing 2017’s sale — the ninth it­er­a­tion of the event — as con­sumers from 225 coun­tries and re­gions scooped up goods that in­cluded ap­parel, mo­bile phones and mo­tor ve­hi­cles from 140,000 brands that of­fered pro­mo­tions dur­ing the an­nual jam­boree.

The tech be­he­moth broke last year’s 120.7 bil­lion yuan to­tal shortly af­ter 1 pm and gained fresh steam as over­seas shop­pers joined the fray in the af­ter­noon, seek­ing good deals from China.

Ex­pand­ing at a fasterthan-ex­pected pace, the to­tal eclipsed the com­bined sales of Black Fri­day and Cy­ber Mon­day in the United States last year.

“We want the ‘China phe­nom­e­non’ (in re­tail) to spread to the whole world,” Alibaba CEO Daniel Zhang said in Shang­hai, where a star-stud­ded count­down gala raised the cur­tain on the fes­ti­val.

The shop­ping bo­nanza, which started as an in­ter­net joke based on the day’s nu­mer­i­cal date look­ing like four sin­gle peo­ple, has drawn in other e-com­merce play­ers. JD.com re­ported sales of 127.1 bil­lion yuan dur­ing an 11-day pro­mo­tional pe­riod, while NetEase’s cross-bor­der site kaola.com saw trans­ac­tions on Satur­day quadru­ple year-onyear, with no spe­cific fig­ures dis­closed.

“It’s a cel­e­bra­tion of not just on­line re­tail but the Chi­nese (con­sumer) econ­omy in gen­eral,” said Matthew Crabbe, Asi­aPa­cific re­search di­rec­tor at con­sul­tancy Min­tel.

The coun­try’s clout in mo­bile pay­ments and in­tel­li­gent lo­gis­tics has bol­stered that stel­lar growth, he said.

Nine out of 10 peo­ple used mo­bile wal­let apps for pay­ment, said Alibaba, with its Ali­pay app hav­ing han­dled 1.48 bil­lion trans­ac­tions in 24 hours and pro­cessed them at a peak rate of 256,000 trans­ac­tions per sec­ond. Pro­gres­sion of Satur­day’s spend­ing Com­ment, page 11

Mean­while, ro­bots, al­go­rithms and ex­pand­ing de­ploy­ment of over­seas ware­houses ac­cel­er­ated the de­liv­ery of 812 mil­lion parcels at home and abroad.

Some off­line shops also joined in, turn­ing into smart stores that al­lowed shop­pers to track prod­uct avail­abil­ity at other lo­ca­tions and get timely de­liv­ery to their doorsteps while pay­ing with their phones.

“Us­ing big data an­a­lyt­ics pow­ered by Chi­nese tech firms can help us lo­cate ... and re­tain cus­tomers in a pre­cise man­ner ... some­thing we wouldn’t have achieved us­ing old-school re­tail­ing,” said Gary Chu, e-com­merce gen­eral man­ager of US cos­met­ics maker Es­tee Lauder Group’s China op­er­a­tions.

The Nov 11 shop­ping event has gone be­yond a mar­ket­ing gim­mick and rep­re­sents a China-branded busi­ness model that can also be spread to other coun­tries, cre­at­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties for busi­nesses world­wide, said Crabbe.

As Sin­gles Day grows, shop­pers have used the op­por­tu­nity to try out new items rather than sim­ply bag­ging a bar­gain, said Tommy Hong, vice-pres­i­dent of Nielsen China.

That was the case with Wang Zhi, a univer­sity clerk in Shang­hai who spent 8,000 yuan pur­chas­ing out­bound travel pack­ages on sale that weren’t avail­able in pre­vi­ous years.

“That chang­ing sen­ti­ment (to­ward Sin­gles Day) also aligns with China’s shift­ing fo­cus from quan­tity to qual­ity growth,” Crabbe said.

XU KANGPING / FOR CHINA DAILY

Alibaba Group work­ers strike a pose on Sun­day in front of a gi­ant screen show­ing the record 168.2 bil­lion yuan ($25.3 bil­lion) in on­line sales on Satur­day for this year’s Sin­gles Day, the world’s largest day­long dis­count gala.

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