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Not as Prime as Single’s Day

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Kevin Carter, Chairman of the EMQQ Index Committee and sponsor of the Emerging Markets Internet and Ecommerce UCITS ETF (EMQQ), compares the popularity of Amazon’s Prime Day with Alibaba’s sales success on Single’s Day in China…

During 2019, Amazon (AMZN) extended its Prime Day sale promotion to two days – 15 and 16 July –and it proved a record for the company. Yet, the event did not come close to the sales volume generated by Single’s Day (11/11) in China during which Chinese ecommerce company Alibaba (BABA) experienced record volumes.

In July 2015, Amazon turned 20. On the eve of its birthday, the company introduced Prime Day, a global shopping event. Its goal was to offer its Prime members better shopping deals than Black Friday (the Friday after Thanksgiving). Over the five Prime Days since, the event has continued to grow.

According to an article on Yahoo Finance, 2019, was Amazon’s largest Prime Day [1]. The article noted that analysts estimate that over USD6 billion in sales were generated during the two-day event.

While Amazon didn’t disclose its sales, it did note that sales at third-party vendors – made up mostly by independent small and medium-sized businesses – doubled over the period to USD2 billion. The company said it sold more than 175 million items over the course of the event, up from 100 million items last year, according to Yahoo Finance.

Amazon looks at its Prime Day event as an opportunity to sign up new members to its Prime platform.

Yahoo Finance noted that Amazon said in a statement that it “welcomed more new Prime members on 15 July than on any previous day, and almost as many on 16 July – making these the two biggest days ever for member signups.” This may help the company generate more in recurring revenues and help to offset the costs of the event.

While impressive, sales during Prime Day do not come close to those generated during Single’s Day, the world’s largest shopping day, according to Forbes [2].

Single’s Day is a holiday popular among young Chinese people that celebrates their pride in being single. The event began as a protest of sorts against Valentine’s Day, propelled by college students in the 1990s. The date 11/11 is significant because of the solitary implications of the number one.

Single’s Day really came into prominence in 2009, when Alibaba turned the holiday into an online – and occasionally bricks-and-mortar – mercantile extravaganza. As a result, Single’s Day has become linked with Alibaba. 

2018’s Single’s Day generated record sales volume of USD30 billion for Alibaba [3]. While the company’s sales were impressive, the company reported additional staggering numbers. Over one billion orders were processed by Cainaio, Alibaba’s logistics company, while the company’s website recorded sales of over RMB100 million (USD14.9 million) across 237 brands [4].

Alibaba expanded the focus of its Single’s Day event outside of China into parts of Southeast Asia and even the United States. It also used the event to drive sales for its new retail platform – a strategy that blends both online and brick-and-mortar retailing.

Single’s Day still reigns as the world’s largest shopping day, reflecting the potential of the consuming class in China. While Alibaba was the prime beneficiary of the event during 2018, other Chinese ecommerce platforms, such as JD.com (JD), also benefited.

[1] McCormick, Emily, Here’s how much Amazon sold on Prime Day this year, according to analysts, Yahoo Finance, 17/07/19
[2] Lavin, Frank, Singles’ Day Countdown: What To Watch Ahead Of The World’s Biggest Shopping Day, Forbes, 17/10/18
[3] Li, Shan, Alibaba Pulls In Record ‘Singles Day’ Sales, The Wall Street Journal, 11/11/18
[4] By the Numbers: 2018 11.11 Global Shopping Festival, Alibaba press release, 11/11/18

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