Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 15 December 2019

Alibaba targets another record-breaking Singles' Day

E-commerce giant witnessed sales of $30bn on November 11 last year

Alibaba Group will kick off its annual 24-hour shopping extravaganza on Monday with deals and deep discounts galore, and a performance by American singer Taylor Swift to top it all, as it pushes to break another record in Singles' Day sales.

This year's November 11 bash comes as the $486 billion (Dh1.78 trillion) Chinese retail juggernaut navigates through a major turning point following the September resignation of its flamboyant co-founder Jack Ma as chairman, and as it looks to raise up to $15bn via a share sale in Hong Kong as early as this month.

Akin to Black Friday and Cyber Monday in the United States, Singles' Day, a shopping fest originally promoted by Alibaba's now chairman Daniel Zhang in 2009, has since grown rapidly to become the world's biggest online sales event.

Alibaba recorded sales worth $30bn on its platforms on Singles' Day last year, dwarfing the $7.9bn online sales in the US for Cyber Monday. Yet, the 27 per cent sales growth was the lowest in the event's 10-year history, spurring a search for fresh ideas.

"This year will be the 11th 11.11 festival, with more than 200,000 brands participating, one million new products on offer and over 500 million users are expected to participate – about 100 million more than last year," Alibaba said.

Ms Swift, whose latest album Lover has broken records in China, will headline this year's opening gala alongside local celebrities such as Jackson Yee.

Livestreamers are also set to play a prominent role in product promotions this year, as Alibaba increasingly turns to online influencers to increase engagement on its app.

Its heavy marketing campaign underscores intensifying competition with smaller rivals such as Pinduoduo, which have outsmarted Alibaba in second and third-tier cities with big discounts and group-buying deals.

Pinduoduo will be also holding its own Singles' Day events on the same day.

The e-commerce upstart has signalled its intentions to break Alibaba and rival JD.com's stronghold on wealthy Chinese shoppers.

Updated: November 11, 2019 03:40 PM

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