So exactly how big is online shopping in China? To illustrate this phenomenon, one simply needs to take a look at the astonishing sales volume on China's annual Singles' Day online shopping event. Alibaba's T-mall, China's number one online marketplace, smashed its own record on November 11, 2016 and posted an eye-popping $17.8 billion in sales, up from $14.3 billion the year before. To put this in perspective, Black Friday and Cyber Monday in the U.S. only generated online sales of $5.81 billion in 2016, combined.
Photographer: Qilai Shen/Bloomberg
Alibaba created the popular Singles' Day on November 11, 2009 (written out with the lonely sign of '11/11') with only 27 brands. Now more than 16,000 international brands had their products purchased during Singles' Day. More than 100 million viewers tuned in to watch the 24-hour live streaming of the Singles' Day global shopping festival and more than 115 million people bought from Alibaba. This is tremendous exposure to a very large consumer audience for any brand that is trying to get a piece of the e-commerce pie in China.
The online retail sector in China continues to grow at a rapid pace despite a slow down in macroeconomics. The latest statistic reported by the National Bureau of Statistics of China showed a growth of 33.3% nationally for online retails sales. Consumers have an unfading desire to buy quality overseas-made products and this becomes a very lucrative opportunity for international brands to try to explore their potential in the Chinese marketplace. More than 18 million shoppers are already paying premium prices to purchase foreign products. International brands are relying on third party e-commerce logistics providers to ship their goods 'cross border' and it is critical to recognize that selling to Chinese online consumers is more than just about the front end. The entire e-commerce logistics ecosystem must be mapped out carefully, especially the last mile delivery. Remember, more than 650 million orders where delivered, just on Singles' Day.