Alibaba's (NYSE:BABA) network of online retailers is expected to make about $8.17 billion in sales on China's national holiday, Singles' Day. The now giant shopping day—similar to Cyber Monday—got its name in China because the date Nov. 11 has four singles (11/11) resembling the "bare branches," which is what the country calls unattached people.
Last year, Alibaba made more than $5.7 billion in sales on Nov. 11, up from $7 million in 2009, reported CNBC. And this year the company recorded $1 billion in just the first 17 minutes of Singles' Day.
Alibaba's Tmall began marketing Nov. 11 as its biggest sales event in 2009, and since then rivals jumped on board, making it the shopping sensation that it is now in 2014, reported Bloomberg.
"Alibaba uses this event to reward consumers and reinforce its e-commerce influence in China's market," Vanessa Zeng, a Beijing-based Forrester senior analyst for China's e-commerce sector told CNBC. "The Singles' Day event has become the most influential e-commerce campaign in China. Almost all e-tailers and even offline retailers join this event. Alibaba tries to demonstrate its leading position and gather as many merchants as possible to its platform through this event, and hit its competitors."
On Singles' Day, Alibaba's network includes 27,000 participating merchants and 42,000 brands. Some retailers participating include Costco (NASDAQ:COSTCO), American Eagle Outfitters, Calvin Klein and Blue Nile. To mark the day, the company is offering up worldwide sales on its sites including Tmall, AliExpress, Taobao Marketplace and others. Alibaba predicts that popular items this year will be mixed nuts from Costco and cosmetics from Japan.
Flash sales site Gilt is making a push for sales in China on Singles' Day. Although the company already ships to 120 countries, Gilt wants to test its overseas expansion and has been working to improve inventory, seasonal merchandise, localized content and ability to accept local currency to make the retailer more appealing in Asia.
Just last month, Alibaba announced a partnership with Alipay ePass, an online payment platform that will allow U.S. and other Western retailers access to Chinese shoppers. As many as 300 million Chinese customers have Alipay accounts—which means big opportunities for other retailers.
-See this Bloomberg article
-See this CNBC article
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