Alibaba looks to cross-border orders as next avenue of Singles Day growth

Further growth in Singles Day sales this year may come from eager buyers outside of China.

Photo: Alizila
Photo: Alizila

After seeing solid growth in the sales on the November 11 Singles Day year after year, Alibaba could have its eyes set on replicating its domestic success among shoppers outside the country. 

Global marketing hype will likely translate to record cross-border ecommerce demand, according to Andria Cheng, analyst and editor at large for eMarketer Retail. In 2016, cross-border transactions made on Alipay increased by 60% on Singles Day compared to the same day a year earlier. The Alibaba-owned mobile payment platform said consumers from 224 countries used its service to pay for online purchases on Singles Day.

In total, Alibaba made a record $18.2 billion sales on Singles Day last year. Its closest competitor,, needed 18 days to attain $17.6 billion in sales during its 618 sales from June 1 to 18 this year. Alibaba has not revealed any sales targets for the shopping festival this year. The company reported its quarterly earnings yesterday and said its core commerce, primarily generated from its China retail marketplaces contributed to its 61% increase in revenue. 

Meanwhile, Chinese consumers' appetite for foreign products fuels the growing number of international brands joining the sales. Twenty-seven percent of purchases made on Singles Day last year were from international brands or merchants. 

"For new international brands eyeing the Chinese market, the event will continue to mark Alibaba's biggest pitch and showcase for them to get on board and test the waters regarding Chinese consumer demand and promise," said Cheng in a release. "The fact that more than two-fifths of this year's 140,000 brands at the shopping extravaganza come from outside China speaks to the continued international hope and bet that Chinese consumers will pick up the slack left by many brands' own domestic growth."

See all 2017 Singles Day coverage

According to eMarketer data, Chinese consumers will generate almost half (49.5%) of worldwide ecommerce sales this year. Retail ecommerce sales in China is expected to reach $1.13 trillion this year, growing at 33.1% to account for 23.1% of total retail sales.

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