From Kim Kardashian to Disney tickets: Alibaba gears up for Singles Day, a $30 billion shopping event

Singles Day or 11.11, is the biggest shopping day of the year for singles, as Chinese e-commerce players led by Alibaba offer massive discounts on everything from electronics to cars.

Taking place on Nov. 11 each year, Singles Day is widely believed to have started in the 1990s by men celebrating being single in universities.

In 2009, Alibaba launched its first shopping event that day, offering heavy discounts on its Tmall shopping platform. That year, gross merchandising value — or the value of goods sold via Alibaba platforms — hit $7.8 million.

Last year, that figure was more than $30 billion — a new record for the Chinese technology giant.

To keep growing, against the backdrop of the ongoing U.S.-China trade war, slowing Chinese growth, and increased competition, Alibaba has been expanding its offerings into new product categories and experiences.

Star power and live streaming
Alibaba usually kicks off Singles Day with a gala event which ends just before midnight on Nov. 11. Last year, Mariah Carey put on a performance, and this year, Alibaba signed up U.S. pop superstar Taylor Swift. The gala, which is streamed online, often showcases some of the brands that will be on offer and prompts users to begin pre-ordering.

Live streaming has become a big part of the shopping experience on Chinese e-commerce sites. Often online personalities will speak to their followers and talk about products.

Within the livestream, there will be an option to buy the goods. Alibaba’s platforms Taobao and Tmall have this feature. On Wednesday, Kim Kardashian did a livestream announcing her fragrance brand KKW will be available for sale on Tmall.

November 9, 2019

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