With their catchy jingles, celebrity endorsements, and attractive advertisements, it would be almost impossible to miss the monthly sales on many e-commerce platforms, including Tmall, Shopee, and Lazada.
Interestingly enough, these monthly sales are almost ubiquitous in Southeast Asia, with businesses in countries like Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, and China, among others, going all out to boost profits through sales. Especially targeting dates with repeated numbers (e.g. 11.11, 12.12, etc), these 24-hour sales have proven to be a success for many e-commerce platforms.
In 2020, Alibaba Group Holding Limited reported that its sales on 11.11, also known as Singles Day, generated a gross merchandise volume (GMV) of US $74.1 billion within 11 days. The success of last year's 11.11 sale by Alibaba saw 470 brands on the platform generating a GMV of over US $15 million each. Running an 11-day campaign across its e-commerce channels, such as Tmall and Taobao, last year's sale saw a significant growth of 26% for the Asian e-commerce giant compared to 2019.
The sale's success during the pandemic was so pronounced that, on average and at its peak, Alibaba's digital infrastructure was handling 583,000 orders per second. In the 11-day sale period, Alibaba's logistics company, Cainiao Network, successfully managed more than 2.32 billion orders.
China has pioneered these sales campaigns since Alibaba launched its 11.11 sale to commemorate Singles Day in 2009. For 24 hours, the platform offered massive discounts on products, drawing shoppers to shop online. Over the years, the sale got bigger, better, and more attractive, with more companies turning to these e-commerce platforms to drum up business. At its launch 12 years ago, only 27 merchants took part in the event. This year, it is reported that more than 290,000 brands will be participating in what is slated to be the largest online sale ever.
In comparison to more iconic and internationally known sales days, such as Black Friday in the United States or Prime Day and Cyber Monday on e-commerce giant Amazon, Alibaba's 11.11 sale last year surpassed the GMV of these American-based companies by US $49.06 billion, collectively. The highest GMV was on Cyber Monday, which raked in US $10.84 billion.
The hype of these sales, and the profit margins they generate, has become a point of attraction for other e-commerce platforms across Southeast Asia, which have begun to launch their own campaigns. Determined to understand and emulate the sales model of Alibaba and to take it further, over time what started as an 11.11 sale has become a monthly sale that online consumers look forward to.
In a collaborative study conducted by Facebook and Bain & Co., it was reported that 86% of the 4,000 people surveyed across Southeast Asia indicated that they made their online shopping purchases on these identical date sales days. These now-iconic dates were also an entry point for 43% of first-time online shoppers, of which the highest number were consumers from Thailand and Vietnam.
These figures indicate the importance of these highly anticipated sales days for e-commerce platforms in Southeast Asia, as they allow them, and online businesses, to draw in new customers, expand their target audience, and increase overall sales and profits. In addition, it is worth noting that since these sales are being carried out online, businesses are not limited to selling to consumers within their geographical locations, but can capture a broad audience on an international level.
The successes of these repeated number sale dates in Southeast Asia do not appear to be a fading trend, as they have grown exponentially over the years. The success of these sales has drawn more businesses to e-commerce platforms, and it has also drawn brick-and-mortar retailers to piggyback on the trend by launching in-store sales. It is expected that these notable dates and sales tactics will be emulated on an international level as more online brands try to capitalise on the trend.
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