There is breaking records, and then whatever it is that Alibaba just did. The Chinese retail giant managed to turn over a staggering USD$25.3 billion during its annual ‘Singles Day’ promotion. To put this in context, that is more than double the turnover of last year’s Black Friday and Cyber Sunday promotions, combined. While this is extraordinary, perhaps even more amazing is the fact that turnover had already reached multiple billions within the first few minutes of the sale starting.
That’s just unthinkable.
What retailers will be salivating about now is be the Black Friday sale, scheduled to kick off on 24th of November. Already, retailers around the world are reacting to the incredible results from Alibaba with excitement and optimism. Consumers are set to get incredible deals from online stores, and should sales go the way that many are predicting, the creation of online stores specifically for Black Friday events is not unthinkable.
Jack Ma and Alibaba are playing in a different league, however. The founder and chief executive was present at a gala event that included Hollywood A-listers and sporting figures, to launch the promotion. News outlets around the world carried updates of sales figures, and social media was alive with advice on how to find great deals, and – staggeringly – how much money was likely to be turned over during the course of the day. This is consumers, getting excited about the revenue generated by an intermediary website.
To make sure that the retailer didn’t miss out on any potential revenue, facial recognition technology was installed in close to 100,000 of Alibaba’s TMall stores. This technology was fast-tracked due to concerns about shopper safety, as well as the potential to lose customers during a limited time only sale.
While it’s unlikely that anyone will be counting revenues from their favourite store during the Black Friday sale, the results should make for an interesting analysis afterward.