Alibaba goes in­ter­na­tional to hit new Sin­gles’ Day record

Shopfest this Sun­day will be Jack Ma’s last as chair­man

The Hindu Business Line - - IT & TELECOM - BLOOMBERG

Alibaba Group Hold­ing Ltd. is look­ing be­yond borders to turn its an­nual Sin­gles’ Day shop­ping cel­e­bra­tion into a global phe­nom­e­non.

This Sun­day, the Chi­nese in­ter­net gi­ant is in­clud­ing sales from Lazada, the on­line shop­ping mall it con­trols. South-East Asia’ big­gest web re­tailer is be­com­ing a key part of Alibaba’s plan to fuel growth, on top of the com­pany’s ef­forts to move into shop­ping malls, con­ve­nience stores and food de­liv­ery. The chal­lenge for bil­lion­aire Jack Ma’s on­line empire is to break an­other sales trans­ac­tion record af­ter a decade of ex­ceed­ing prior re­sults. With a brew­ing trade war, a cool­ing econ­omy and ris­ing com­pe­ti­tion from smaller plat­forms such as Inc. and Pin­duo­duo Inc., Alibaba is seek­ing to add new growth en­gines. The re­tail cel­e­bra­tion on No­vem­ber 11 ded­i­cated to the na­tion’s un­at­tached has be­come an im­por­tant bell­wether not just for the com­pany, but also the world’s num­ber 2 econ­omy.

“Sin­gles’ Day has now be­come a stage for Alibaba to show­case its ca­pa­bil­i­ties across all its plat­forms,” Daniel Zhang, chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer, said at an Oc­to­ber news con­fer­ence in Bei­jing. He’s tak­ing over af­ter Ma steps down as ex­ec­u­tive chair­man next year.

It was Zhang who came up with the idea of turn­ing Sin­gles’ Day into a shopfest a decade ago. Now that this year’s one­day bazaar will be Ma’s last as chair­man, Zhang will need to prove he can carry on the legacy. Alibaba has been able to post break­neck growth for al­most a decade, in­clud­ing a 39 per­cent jump in sales last year to 168 bil­lion yuan ($24.2 bil­lion).

Still, there’s some un­cer­tainty this year, due to a slow­ing econ­omy, real es­tate de­fla­tion and trade ten­sions with the US that could im­pact on Chi­nese con­sump­tion. The weaker econ­omy and ris­ing house­hold debt have, to some ex­tent, damp­ened con­sumers’ con­fi­dence in China.

On­line re­tail sales growth slowed to 24 per cent, down 12 per­cent­age points in the sec­ond quar­ter, ac­cord­ing to the Na­tional Bureau of Statis­tics. Pol­icy mak­ers have made a slew of changes, in­clud­ing re­duc­tions in in­come tax and tar­iffs on goods. That in­di­cates spend­ing may pick up in com­ing months; the ear­li­est proof could come from data dur­ing Sin­gles’ Day.

South-east Asia will give the clear­est in­di­ca­tion of Alibaba’s abil­ity to go in­ter­na­tional. With Sin­ga­pore-based Lazada now fully un­der its wing, the re­gion re­mains one of the com­pany’s rel­a­tive bright spots.

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