Singles Day: A Record Breaking Day in E-Commerce

The famous Singles Day, or Double Eleven, has just had its most successful year yet. With over $17 billion dollars being made and 657 million orders being placed in just one day, Alibaba has set a record in e-commerce.

To make this year even more special and to create an even bigger hype around the event, Alibaba held their Global Festival in Shenzen, to countdown to the day, and to track the total sales made. A-List celebrities like the Beckhams and Scarlett Johansson were in attendance, with Katy Perry scheduled to perform, and unfortunately having to pull out last minute.


So nice to attend yesterday’s Alibaba Global Shopping Festival with #JackMa and @davidbeckham ?? x VB

A photo posted by Victoria Beckham (@victoriabeckham) on

This didn’t put a dampener on the sales though, with Alibaba reaching a peak of 147,000 payments made per second, and their payment platform AliPay reaching a recorded peak of 120,000. Mind blowing. Overall sales have also grown by 24% in USD since last year (32% in local currency RMB). International sales also saw a 47% growth in year-on-year sales, which represents 27% of the total amount.

Alibaba is certainly at the forefront of tomorrow’s innovation with the last technological jewel, the BUY+, a concept of shopping experience in high resolution virtual reality which allows for shopping all over the world without leaving home.

BUY+ The First Complete #VR Shopping Experience. Watch how everything, from perusal to purchase, takes place inside a VR environment.

— Alibaba Group (@AlibabaGroup) 20 octobre 2016

In terms of brands, there were more than 11,000 foreign brands taking part in the event this year for the first time, such as Apple (quoted by Alibaba as one of the “winners of the day”), Sephora, Victoria’s Secret, and even Maserati. In fact, this year was so successful that even Alibaba’s competitors,, joined the event. They couldn’t stay away from something this profitable, and were sharing updates on social media about their performances throughout the day.

But How Can Europe Get Involved?

So how can European businesses get involved with the day? At the moment, it’s still quite difficult to sell in China as a European business. Tmall, one of the biggest marketplaces in China, requires you to be physically present with a subsidiary in the country to sell. You could alternatively sell on the international version, Tmall Global, but this only has access to a very limited audience. AliExpress is also an international and successful marketplace, but it’s exclusively reserved for Chinese producers.

This being said, TaoBao, (essentially the Chinese version of eBay) has recently allowed international producers/manufacturers to sell to middlemen who will then resell via this marketplace to end users.

Selling cross border is a difficult process, especially in a country like China that is so different to Europe. To make the leap less stressful, it ’s a good idea to partner with a pre-existing company, that can advise you during the transition, and help you test the water in a new market. All we can do now is wait for the Chinese e-commerce market to truly open its doors to Europe once and for all!

Written by COO of Lengow: Nenad Cetkovic