If you required evidence that internet shopping still has some room to grow, you have just got it. Alibaba, a Chinese e-commerce powerhouse, has verified that the company’s annual Singles’ Day sales event racked up the equivalent of over $25.3 billion in sales, easily setting the record for the most online purchases in one day. For context, Alibaba sold almost $18 billion in 2016 — this year, the company exceeded that amount slightly past the halfway mark. The Cyber Monday sale last year was downright tiny by comparison, mustering sales of ‘just’ $3.45 billion in the United States.
The said record was supported by the strength of the Chinese yuan against the US dollar. However, it also came from improving access to online shopping in China. Joseph Tsai of Alibaba attributed the rise to “rising disposable incomes” among the more than 300 million middle-class buyers in the country. Just imagine if the wide majority of the US population observed a dramatic increase in its spending power and you will get a sense of how Alibaba could manage this activity.
The hype that is swirling around the event surely helped as well. Singles’ Day was started by Alibaba as a promo for lonely hearts. However, it quickly turned into an all-encompassing sales event that makes Black Friday seem timid. This 2017, Alibaba had a launch event with western stars like Pharrell Williams and Nicole Kidman joining Chinese celebrities such as actress Zhang Ziyi. The company wanted buyers to get excited regarding spending money, and this surely paid off.
Alibaba and its rivals cannot rest easily. There are fears that online shopping may soon hit a wall, and Alibaba even transformed 100,000 retail stores into internet purchasing hubs in an effort to attract shoppers who might have ignored the online rush. That still leaves the possibility for significant growth as the middle class of China grows, though, and those that are already in the middle class may spend more money online as they become comfortable with shopping from home.