Alibaba Group Holding Ltd, the Chinese tech giant, is gearing up for its annual shopping extravaganza, “Singles Day.” However, this year, the event will kick off earlier than usual, thanks to China’s easing COVID-19 situation and the subsequent economic rebound. The decision to start early is expected to have a significant impact on Alibaba’s sales.

To make the event even bigger this year, Alibaba has introduced two checkout periods. The first will take place from November 1st to 3rd, followed by the traditional 24-hour shopping window on November 11th. Additionally, the company plans to offer over 2 million new products, doubling the number from last year.

Singles Day is closely watched as an indicator of consumer appetite and overall recovery of household spending in China. It holds immense importance for Alibaba, as the company turned China’s informal Singles’ Day into the world’s largest online sales festival back in 2009.

Other major tech players like Douyin (the Chinese version of TikTok owned by ByteDance), JD.com, and Pinduoduo are also launching their own campaigns. Some of these campaigns are expected to be even larger than Alibaba’s.

Experts believe that an extended shopping event like Singles Day has great financial potential. Sam Coopersmith, a partner at Full Jet, an e-commerce consultancy in Shanghai, asserts that “The longer 11-11 lasts, the more opportunity they have to make money.”

However, Lu Zhenwang, an independent e-commerce expert and CEO of Shanghai-based Wanqing Consultancy, predicts that Alibaba’s gross merchandise value (GMV) growth will be modest this year compared to last year. He estimates it to range between 10-20% due to the negative impact of the pandemic on consumer incomes.

Alibaba’s Chief Marketing Officer, Chris Tung, sees an opportunity for a surge in luxury goods purchases. With travel bans restricting Chinese consumers from shopping overseas, Tung believes more people will make luxury purchases locally.

In preparation for the anticipated increase in demand, Alibaba’s logistics division, Cainiao, expects a whopping 30% surge in package shipments compared to last year. To handle the surge, Cainiao has employed 200-300 robots in one of its warehouses and expanded housing and dining facilities for its staff.

Alibaba’s main competitor, JD.com, will also launch its 11-day festival on November 1st, offering discounts worth 10 billion yuan to consumers.

Douyin, the popular short video app, is joining the Singles Day frenzy for the first time. Last year, Douyin partnered with Alibaba to enhance its livestreaming services. However, this year, the app plans to direct its users to its own internal e-commerce stores.

Overall, the early start of Alibaba’s Singles Day and the participation of other major tech players underscore the significance of this event in the Chinese e-commerce landscape. The success of Singles Day will provide crucial insights into the recovery and resilience of the Chinese consumer market in the post-pandemic era.

Useful Links:
1. Alibaba Group Newsroom: Alibaba unveils plans for 2021 11.11 Global Shopping Festival
2. JD.com Official Website