Alibaba’s Singles’ Day: World’s Biggest Shopping Event Goes Global
Narrator: Singles’ Day in China is the world’s biggest shopping event.
Think of Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Amazon Prime Day on loop for days. And now Alibaba, the Chinese e-commerce giant that created Singles’ Day wants to use its international platform, AliExpress, to help the event go global, from Poland, to France, and Brazil.
Alibaba is competing with other e-commerce platforms like Amazon to capture a larger share of the global market, which is expected to grow by $1.4 trillion by 2025. So to promote Singles’ Day, Alibaba has hired an army of influencers around the world.
“I love this color.”
Narrator: And beefed up its logistics. But it has to tackle some challenges if it wants to take a bite off a bigger piece of the global e-commerce pie.
One of the first things Alibaba is doing to win over new Singles’ Day consumers abroad? Massive sales.
Vinci Zhang: Discounts of up to, you know, 50 or even 70% are being offered. So it’s a very big event.
Narrator: Vinci Zhang is an e-commerce analysts based in Shanghai who’s been watching Alibaba for the past seven years.
Vinci Zhang: So the way it is doing that right now is basically competing on pricing, by offering cheaper prices, as well as charging less fees for the merchants.
Narrator: When foreign customers use AliExpress, they get direct access to Chinese factories and merchants. The company’s also speeding up global delivery during the international two-day shopping event this year. It said it’s increasing charter flights from China to cities like Seoul and Paris to 100 a week up from 80 flights.
AliExpress said it’s also installed 5,000 automated self-pickup lockers across Russia, Poland, Spain and France to help cut delivery costs that would go to hiring fleets of delivery trucks and drivers.
Daniela Sena is one of the 400 influencers Alibaba has hired to promote Singles’ Day abroad. In China, live streaming is one of the most popular ways to shop. And Sena is doing the same but for a Brazilian audience. She says the Chinese company is offering something better than other shopping platforms.
Daniela Sena: I think the fact that people can see us, we touch the product, we have the feedback of other people that already purchased the products as well. It gives the audience a very personal communication.
Narrator: But attracting buyers won’t be enough.
Vinci Zhang: If it wants to compete with Amazon, then I think fundamentally, it needs to own more inventory.
Narrator: And the bigger bulk items could become an issue. Right now, the company lacks the infrastructure outside China to support those kinds of sales.
Vinci Zhang: If we’re talking about big air conditioner or refrigerator purchase shipped from China, I imagine it will be very challenging for big home appliance manufacturers. They are not going to, you know, sell directly in Europe and build a warehouse. So it’s up to Alibaba if they want to kinda undertake that initiative.
Narrator: Alibaba said it has opened up its platform to merchants in several markets already outside of China, and will continue to expand while also developing warehouses overseas to improve capacity. It said AliExpress is at the forefront of its global strategy. And according to brokerage China Merchant Securities, China’s outbound e-commerce market is expected to grow around 26% every year until 2025. Amazon did not respond to a request for comment.
So Zhang says Alibaba should stick to what they’re good at: using automated warehouses, innovative ways to live stream and delivery packages to keep prices low.
Vinci Zhang: I think that’s where Alibaba’s strength lies. It’s in its technology and logistics management. If they are able to replicate that success to Europe, then maybe they can, you know, compete against Amazon from a different angle, and, you know, attract more people to ultimately switch to using Alibaba.