11/11 is an informal singles day in China. What do you do when you are single? Celebrate it by buying stuff online. At least in China.
Alibaba has taken advantage of this day and this year has generated sales in value of 213.5 billion yuan ($30.8 billion) at its annual event, which is also known as “Double 11” because it falls on 11/11. This outpaces U.S. online sales on Black Friday and Cyber Monday combined. But it should not come as a surprise given that Alibaba’s number of mobile monthly active users is 666 million—double the entire U.S. population.
From logistics and fulfilment point of view this translates into a huge effort as 43% of Chinese consumers lived outside of urban areas in 2016. To combat this there is increasing automation in Alibaba warehouses (see this Alibaba warehouse video, where robots do 70% of work) and in the supply chain in general.
In summary, this one day event demostrates the challenge of reaching many remote, rural areas. It also highlights the importance of investing into an efficient modern fulfillment infrastructure. It also speaks about the rise of middle class in China, which according to OECD forecast,would almost triple by 2030, to 850 million, from 300 million. And finally, it once again proves us about the desire for luxury western products – Apple was the top-selling mobile phone brand, beating Chinese rivals Huawei and Xiaomi that came second and third, respectively.