Alibaba Singles' DayThe 2016 Alibaba Singles’s Day drove more sales in China during one day than all USA online and mobile sales made during the 5 busiest days of the 2015 Holiday Sale season.

In other words, one day of sales on Alibaba just in China beat out all US eCommerce sales across all retailers in 2015 during Thanksgiving, Black Friday and all the way through Cyber Monday.

To put this into real figures, during this year’s Alibaba Singles’ Day – which took place on Friday, November 11, 2016 – Chinese shoppers spent 120.7 billion yuan ($17.8 Billion USD.) (Source: Alibaba)

By comparison, the 2015 total US online and mobile sales for the five days from Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday rang in at just $11.1 billion USD (Source: Adobe Digital Index.)

Alibaba Singles’ Day – November 11th

November 11th marks Alibaba Singles’ Day, a yearly shopping promotion by Alibaba launched in 2009.

Alibaba Singles’ Day takes place every year on November 11th due to the fact that the 11/11 date is made up of only the number 1.

If you’re not familiar with how Alibaba Singles’s Day plays out, think of the Super Bowl and all the mega production and wild audience excitement around the event…

Now, instead of watching teams play football to score points – the objective is to buy online and to drive more sales. The higher the sales, the more excitement and activity keeps building around the event. Additionally, instead of merely watching the game – the audience (ie. customers) actively participates and drives the whole experience by driving even higher scores (ie. sales) thereby unleashing new activities.

What makes Alibaba Singles’ Day so special is that beyond the sheer massive size of China’s consumer base, the one day event stands out as a digital marketing masterpiece. It is a massive production show broadcast via TV, Online and Mobile complete with live entertainment featuring top celebrity personalities and multiple opportunities to “play along”, which consist of various missions, activities and buying opportunities across all devices.

“Viewers were able to influence the production of the show in real-time through their mobile phones,” said Chris Tung, chief marketing officer of Alibaba Group. “Consumers in front of their televisions were shaking, tapping, scanning, chatting, browsing, and buying with their mobile devices, creating a seamless and truly immersive entertainment experience.”

This year, Alibaba Singles’ Day even featured augmented reality elements and Virtual Reality shopping, a first in its space.

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Over $1B Mobile sales… in just the first 5 minutes.

With the increase in smartphone penetration in China, mobile sales drove over $1B just in the first five minutes. Once the day was over, Alibaba reported that 82% of all sales were made on mobile phones.

That kind of order volume translates roughly to over 175,000 transactions per second.

According to Duncan Clark, chairman and MD of the business advisory BDA China in an interview for CNBC, “In China, shopping is entertainment, a lot of people [in inland cities] are tuning in to live broadcasts for products.”

This tight integration across all types of digital platforms (TV, Online, Mobile) which blends entertainment, marketing and shopping all-in-one is the magic formula behind the massive success of Alibaba Singles’ Day.

The road ahead…

As Alibaba Singles’ Day continues to grow year after year and technology keeps moving forward, expect to see Artificial Intelligence and Internet of Things (IoT) playing a far bigger role. Alibaba has recently announced a planned collaboration with Intel to develop products and devices leveraging AI and IoT.

According to Alibaba CEO, Daniel Zhang, “Cultivating a deeper relationship with Intel will help both companies stay at the forefront of the AI and IoT sector, and provide better services to partners on our platform.”

As a digital marketer, I’m blown away by the genius of transforming the online shopping experience into a one day competitive sporting event… I can’t wait to see what next year looks like.

What are your thoughts on Singles’ Day?

Let me know in the comments below!