Online shopping in China received a big boost yesterday, November 11, to the tune of $5.75 billion – and that’s just for one company. Alibaba, China’s e-commerce goliath reported it had 402 million unique visitors – greater than the population of the United States – on Monday and prepared 152 million parcels. The online sprees stem from “celebrating” Singles’ Day in China, always on 11/11 as homage to the 4 singles of 11/11 and an opportunity for the unmarried to socialize and mingle with single friends.
The always enterprising Alibaba started the Singles’ Day promotions five years ago as a Cyber Monday-like retail event. Celebrations are no longer saved for the unattached however with this year’s 11/11 shopping event eclipsing 2012’s cyber Monday by 2.5 times. Bain & Co. predicts China will surpass the U.S. this year as the world’s largest digital retail market which has grown 70% annually since 2009.
The Bain report goes on to say that overseas online purchases are doubling annually – particularly for health and infant products that offer a higher quality and are more trusted for safety concerns. 10% of all infant formula and 7% of all cosmetics and skincare products are purchased through overseas agents.
Many business-to-consumer (B2C) sites exist that offer businesses digital storefronts from which to sell products. Tmall, operated by Alibaba, is one of the most prolific and most trusted by consumers. Others include YOHO and JingDong. These sites mostly defer logistics to the seller but some offer operating services for a fee.
Understanding consumer behavior and market swings are key requirements when looking at China for e-commerce. There are tremendous opportunities but finding the right partner is key and crucial for success.