Guest Post by Nivedit.
The e-commerce sector has boomed massively in the last few years. Owing to increased digitization, smartphones and data plans becoming cheaper, consumers are now more inclined towards shopping online, rather than visiting brick and mortar stores. And this is actually turning out to be quite a nifty solution to the increasing fast paced lives of most professionals these days.
When there is a growth in a particular sector, trends are bound to be seen in associated industries. We’ve already seen major startups flourish in the e-commerce sector, primary of which are the likes of Amazon, eBay and our very own Flipkart, among many others. Interestingly, the year 2015 has also seen the popularization of FMCGs and grocery items being sold online, which again proves just how big e-commerce is becoming in India. The market is so big that it has created space for price comparison and shopping decision sites, like FindYogi.
And with more e-commerce stores, come the plethora of promotional campaigns. A viable strategy in this regard is to hold massive promotional campaigns just for a few days within a year, which boost sales and revenue massively. We’ve seen it with Flipkart’s Big Billion Day campaign, and a few more e-commerce stores in India jumping on the ‘One-Day-Campaign’ bandwagon.
In this article, we take a look at the key trends in the e-commerce sector in our oriental neighbor, China. Valid conclusions can be drawn from the Singles Day campaign and the overall sector, and we’ll also be pointing out significant figures from the sales of Alibaba – China’s biggest e-commerce player.
Singling out the Chinese market and the trends within it is an important step to understand a lot of concepts associated with marketing and the e-commerce sector as a whole. China is a country which is experiencing online trends on a regular basis, and the revenues raked in by the big corps simply speak for themselves.
To begin this analysis, let’s take a look at the number of digital buyers in the country. This takes into account the numbers from 2010 and gives a forecast of how things might be in 2016. It is estimated that by 2016, the total number of online buyers in China would exceed 400 million.
Putting this same statistic in another perspective, this figure shows the digital buyer penetration in China from 2011 to 2018. It is estimated that in 2016, 67% of the total internet users in China would have made purchases online, and according to the forecasts by Statista, this number will increase to about 73% in 2018.
From these statistics, it is quite evident that the number of digital buyers in China is estimated to grow at a very fast pace. China is a huge market, with close to about a billion smart connected device users. These rising numbers in a way portray how popular e-commerce platforms will become in the coming time.
Which brings us to the next part of our analysis: the e-commerce sector in China.
Zoom in on the total revenue incurred from sales through e-commerce platforms, and the numbers are mind boggling. Here is a statistic showing the total B2C e-commerce sales in China from 2011 to 2016. It is estimated that in 2016, the total e-commerce sales in China will be to the tune of a whopping U.S. $439.72 billion.
Delve a little deeper to make comparisons, and one would see that even the share of e-commerce sales to the total retail sales is bound to rise. According to this study by eMarketer, 13.8% of the total retail sales in China would be accounted for by e-commerce sales alone, and this figure is estimated to rise to 15.5% in 2017 and 16.6% in 2018.
To wrap things up for the general analysis, here is a statistic from Digital Market Outlook, which talks about the e-commerce revenue in selected countries in 2015. The United States rake in the most moolah in this regard, with revenues to the tune of U.S. $287 billion this year alone. China comes in at a close second, with the total e-commerce revenue along the figures of U.S. $247 billion.
Singles Day is China’s version of India’s Big Billion Day, or Black Friday or Cyber Monday or any other promotional campaign being run for a short period. In this case, Singles Day – named owing to the date on which it occurs every year: 11/11 (11th November) – is the day e-commerce players in China offer huge discounts on products. On this day, consumers are unattached to any restriction and spend on products online.
It’s a flash sale, multiplied by a thousand.
The concept became popular owing to Chinese e-commerce super-giant Alibaba, which offers huge discounts on this particular day. Alibaba is a key case study as far as Singles Day – or even the Chinese e-commerce landscape – is concerned.
The giant called Alibaba
We won’t be focusing on the corporation primarily, but more on what the figures look like for Alibaba on Singles Day, 2015. In the first eight minutes alone, the merchandise sales for Alibaba exceeded the $1 billion mark. Compare this figure to that in 2014, where the same company took an hour’s time to sell $1.8 billion worth of goods, and you’ll see just how popular Alibaba has grown in a year’s span.
The Singles Day sales begin at midnight, and last for 24 hours. At the close of sales, Alibaba recorded a final tally of $14.3 billion. Again, compare this to last year’s tally of $9.3 billion, and there’s a massive 60% increase!
Comparing this with Alibaba’s track record over the years, here’s Alibaba’s sales revenue on Singles Day for the past few years.
We believe that comparisons must be drawn to put the above statistics in a clearer light, and in this regard, this is an interesting chart. According to SunTrust, Alibaba’s sales revenue on Singles Day 2015 is more than the individual revenues of Viacom, Facebook and Netflix from the year 2014. Compare it with other shopping campaigns, and you’ll see that Cyber Monday’s desktop sales revenue fades away in comparison.
All these statistics focus upon two major things:
1. Alibaba’s overwhelming majority in the Chinese e-commerce sphere.
2. The increasing popularity of e-commerce in China.
Relation with the Economy
Make no mistake, the Chinese economy is not a direct reflection of the sales on Singles Day. The economy of the country is still slowing: inflation has reduced and non-food prices dropped 0.3% in October. All this indicates that the Chinese consumption is declining.
However, one cannot help but look at the silver lining. Alibaba’s massive strides in the e-commerce sector seeks to attract more international players selling products to China and domestic players looking to expand their consumer base into overseas markets. According to Euromonitor, this shopping event would help influencing not just domestic demand, but also trade within the country.
Singles Day might just be the Hail Mary of a country that is heading for its slowest growth in nearly 25 years. And this simple statement proves why the e-commerce sector, and the promotional campaigns held, is so vital and relevant for a country’s economy.
Nivedit is a gadget freak and a programmer. He is part of the editorial team at FindYogi.com