Alibaba makes $1.36 billion in first minute of Singles’ Day
Other retailers join shopping extravaganza, with one observer saying 11.11 is not just a marketing gimmick
When it first started, it offered huge discounts to singles to shop and splurge on themselves.
It has since morphed into a multi-billion-dollar annual shopping day celebrated by everyone to snag the best deals.
Within one minute and eight seconds of Singles' Day - also called the Double Eleven or the 11.11 - sales yesterday, Chinese retail juggernaut Alibaba made US$1 billion (S$1.36 billion), Reuters reported.
As of 4pm yesterday, the e-commerce giant, which created the one-day sale that has become the biggest global online shopping event, generated more than US$30.8 billion in sales, said business development lead of Alibaba-owned Taobao Singapore, Ms Charlene Zhang.
She told The New Paper that pants, dresses and down jackets formed the top three sales as of 4pm yesterday.
The top three product categories bought by Chinese consumers in the opening hour were food supplements, facial masks, and infant and toddler milk powder, in that order.
Opening sales in Singapore were also brisk, with e-commerce marketplace Qoo10's first-hour record hitting four times higher than last year.
Popular products on Qoo10 included handheld vacuum cleaners, air purifiers and health supplements, said Qoo10 general manager Sam Too.
The site also saw a rise in its page views and unique visitors by 8 per cent and 15 per cent respectively this year, he added.
Other online marketplaces such as Lazada, Shopee and Ezbuy also jumped on the bandwagon by launching their own Singles' Day campaigns.
Both Lazada and Shopee said they saw three times more sales compared with last year in their first hour.
Ezbuy sold more than 36,000 items on its site as of 3pm yesterday.
Over the weekend, electronics retailer Gain City offered deals on selected brands of home appliances on both its website and physical stores.
Mr Terence Ang, head digital marketing and e-commerce at Gain City, said that sales during its Singles' Day on Sunday was almost 10 times more than its regular Sunday sales.
This could be due to people shopping for gifts as the festive season looms, he added.
Retail experts told The New Paper that events such as Singles' Day sales - now in its 11th year - Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales are here to stay.
Mr Samuel Tan, course chair for the diploma in retail management programme at Temasek Polytechnic's School of Business, believes the Singles' Day sales could be more effective than the annual Great Singapore Sale, since online platforms have a bigger reach.
Customers today are well-informed and sharp in noticing price differences, he said.
"If Singles' Day was just a marketing gimmick, customers won't come back," Mr Tan said.
"Curating merchandise is tricky, and it takes an experienced merchandiser to put out something attractive and value for money for customers."
In addition, he said creative marketing concepts such as the Double Eleven sales do well, especially if it builds towards the year-end festive season.
Dr Chu Junhong, an academic director at the National University of Singapore Business School, said many consumers usually hold off making purchases until the big discount or promotion day.
Although retailers may not earn as much as they do for each item sold during the Singles' Day sales, the marketing analytics and insights associate professor said: "For many merchants, the Double Eleven sales account for a third to half of its total sales in a year."
One shopper, Mr Haziq Said, 28, an undergraduate, said that he had been looking forward to the Double Eleven sales to buy the things that he needed - a Casio G-shock watch and a pair of Xiaomi earphones - at slashed prices.
He said: "I scoured the Internet to make sure I had the best deals.
"I am glad I got both the items at half their retail price."
Mr Haziq stayed up at midnight yesterday to browse and monitor prices before he made his purchases in the morning on the way to school.
Another shopper, who wanted to be known only as Mr Sim, 26, said he bought two Apple Macbooks at Gain City's site-wide Singles' Day promotion and saved $1,400.
Although his current laptop is working fine, he thought the deal was too good to miss.
The corporate executive said: "I don't usually participate in sales but the price was a steal. I was also thinking of selling my old laptop to make a quick buck."