A Single Chinese Company Dwarfed All Of America's Black Friday And Thanksgiving Online Sales In One Day

Alibaba Tour 61Nicholas CarlsonThis is a Taobao mascot

Americans spent $US1.9 billion dollars online during Black Friday and Thanksgiving,
reports Comscore via TechCrunch.
That’s up over 18.5% over last year.

Good job, America.

Clearly we’re onto something with this whole digital thing.

Want to know something more impressive?

During the Chinese equivalent of Black Friday, November 11, a single e-commerce company in China called Alibaba processed more than $US5.75 billion in sales.

That’s 3X more sales in just one day — on just one company’s websites.

Those sales happened over two websites owned by Alibaba — Tmall and Taobao. On Tmall, big brands sell to consumers. On Taobao, small businesses and consumers sell to consumers.

November 11 is known as “Singles Day” in China. Like Black Friday, it’s a holiday made up for business purposes. It’s supposedly a celebration of single people. Alibaba picked the date because of all those ones in 11/11.

Why are there so many sales on Tmall and Taobao on 11/11?

Some reasons:

  • There are a lot of Chinese Internet users. One estimate I hear a lot is 500 million. There are only 330 million or so people in the United States.

  • In China, there are lots of cities with millions of people in them and no malls or big offline retail centres. China has leap-frogged the whole mall and big box movements the US went through in the second half of the 20th century. Shopping online is the only way to shop.

  • It is free for merchants to set up stores on Taobao and Tmall. Alibaba only makes money by selling ads to those merchants. Less cost and friction in the store set-up process means more merchants, cheaper prices, and more sales.

  • People in China trust that their are not going to get scammed over Taobao and Tmall. That’s because they pay using something called Alipay — an Alibaba service which keeps the funds in retail transactions in escrow until both the buyer and the seller are happy.

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