On the strike of midnight on 11 November 2014 it all changed. The calm became a frenzied storm of clicks and taps from all over China, with consumers from the mega cities to the rural villages forgoing sleep to get the first and best deals for the Singles’ Day online shopping festival.
Early on on Singles’ Day, almost half of online shoppers were on their mobiles, trying to get the pre-researched deals lined up swiftly. But as the day went on, shoppers slowly moved to PCs, as they were sitting at the desks at work, and to enable easier exploration for the best offers on Tmall.
It took just 2 minutes for Chinese consumers to clock up one billion RMB of sales online, and under 18 minutes for a billion dollars.
China Skinny was fortunate to be invited by Alibaba to experience the online phenomenon from inside the heart of Singles’ Day – Alibaba’s Hangzhou HQ. From the first entry of the campus, there were signs of Singles’ Day everywhere.
More than 600 Chinese and international media were there blogging, tweeting, streaming and reporting the staggering numbers of Alibaba’s first Singles’ Day since listing on the NYSE.
Before lunchtime, Singles’ Day sales had already surpassed the value of America’s biggest online shopping festival – the whole long weekend from Black Friday to Cyber Mondays’ sales of $5.29 billion. By 1:32pm, sales blew past last year’s Single’s Day record breaker of ¥36.2 billion ($5.9 billion).
Not all Alibaba employees were tied to their desks on the day. A worker takes a break to buy some discounted wares on his mobile. Mobile sales for Singles’ Day this year accounted for 42.6%, more than twice last year’s 21% and 8.5 times 2012’s 5%. Note the orange bike loan scheme on campus.
Tmall staff donned special outfits to help grow the Singles’ Day buzz around campus, including these girls dressed up Tmall cats.
Some things remained the same, such as the Alibaba mascots all over the campus, including the loos.
The famous Taobao Lamborghini in the foyer of one of the six buildings on campus. The wagon was made entirely from parts bought on Taobao.
Xiaomi was the top selling brand on Singles’ Day selling more than ¥1 billion ($163 million) of goods by lunchtime. Fellow Chinese brands Huawei, Haier and furniture company Linshimuye were all in the top-5. Japan’s Uniqlo was the only foreign brand to make the list.
Jack Ma discussed his dream of cross border commerce as Singles’ Day closed in on the final hour. 217 countries and regions ended up participating in Singles’ Day, with Hong Kong the top overseas destination for purchases, followed by Russia, the USA, Taiwan and Australia.
¥57.1 billion ($9.3 billion) worth of goods sold on Alibaba’s platforms over the 24-hour period. A total of 278,545,339 goods were bought. We don’t envy the 1.25 million delivery folk!