Singles Day (11/11) is China's own Black Friday on steroids. Both Taobao and Tmall, the country's largest online marketplaces, are running '24 Hour Madness' sales expected to outdo the record 19.1 billion yuan ($3.1 billion) in sales made on Tmall in 2012. Tmall is off to a good start, with over six billion yuan ($1 billion) spent in the first 50 minutes according to Tech in Asia.
At Alibaba HQ, China’s top e-commerce company is watching its consumers spending in real-time in what I like to call its ‘big data’ war-room. Alibaba’s Tmall, its open marketplace for merchants, saw $177 million spent in the first six minutes. That leapt to $266 million (RMB 1.64 billion) after the first ten minutes, and then to very near $500 million (RMB $3.021 billion) at the 20-minute mark. (UPDATE: After the first 50 minutes, $1 billion has been spent).
Consumers in China will spend an average of 1,800 ($285) per person today, according to AdMaster, an independent third-party digital marketing data analysis and management solution provider.
Singles Day became an online shopping holiday when Alibaba Group, which owns both Taobao and Tmall, launched its first sales campaign on November 11, 2009. Sales at Tmall have snowballed in the intervening years from 50 million yuan ($8.2 million) in 2009 to 19.1 billion ($3.1 billion) in 2012. Over 30 billion yuan ($4.9 billion) of sales are expected this year.
In 2012, China's e-commerce industry was worth 8.1 trillion yuan, according to the Ministry of Commerce. Over 2.2 million people are employed in the industry.
Alibaba is currently preparing for an initial public offering (IPO) expected to give it a market capitalisation of around 395 billion yuan ($65 billion), making it the biggest IPO since Twitter.