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Singles' Day sales expected to hit new high with foreign brands and consumers on board
Alibaba Group's e-commerce business is expected to see an annual growth rate of 26 percent to hit record-high sales of 152 billion yuan on the 2017 Singles' Day online shopping carnival this Saturday, thanks to rising demand for imported products and participation of overseas consumers, indicates a forecast report released on Tuesday by international consulting firm Oliver Wyman.

The estimation is made based on some key indicators and determinants, like the value of the past year's retail sales by domestic online shops, its year-on-year growth rate and performance of all major e-commerce platforms, according to Edouard de Mézerac, partner and head of data and analytics for Asia Pacific at Shanghai-based Oliver Wyman Labs.

Alibaba's Singles' Day promotional campaign, now the biggest one globally by the volume of transactions, has seen its sales surge from 0.1 billion yuan in 2009, the starting year, to 120.7 billion last year, five times the amount realized by Cyber Monday, the most high-profile online shopping event in the US.

It's reported by local media that over 140,000 brands or companies have joined in this year's sales activity, almost double the number of retailers involved last year. Meanwhile, there will be 60,000 foreign businesses, 5.5 times of the number joining in last year. And it's known that cainiao.com, the logistics affiliate of Alibaba, has assigned 3 million delivery men for the shopping extravaganza.

Retailers generally regard the big day in the e-commerce world as an occasion to wage wars against their competitors to boost sales and publicity; also, the top two e-commerce platforms—Alibaba and JD.com who have been contending for domestic markets—would take their competition offshore this time.

Between November 1 and 14, JD.com would exempt delivery cost for all consumers in Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan, while Alibaba Group has earlier announced to make over 100 Chinese indigenous brands accessible to overseas online shoppers during the gala period. Alibaba would also use Lazada—an online retailer in Southeast Asia that it has purchased—to do promotional activities between November 11 and December 12, in a bid to catch the eye of overseas Chinese in the area.

Oliver Wyman's mention of growing demand for imported goods is in line with a previous forecast made by the Economist Intelligence Unit, which predicted China's high-income group to expand continuously. In 2015, high-income people in the country accounted for only 3 percent of the population while the high-to-medium income group occupied 7 percent.

The think tank of the Economist estimated that by 2030, 15 percent of Chinese would become high-income earners, while 20 percent would constitute upper-income demographics. The upgrading of their consumption would raise demand for foreign brands of usually higher prices.


Mézerac reckons that the sales and penetration of e-commerce in China would also continue to grow. Although fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) has mainly contributed to the sector's boom these days, in the future, online shopping would start to include more varieties of products.

And the e-commerce craze would penetrate into broader areas in the country. “Growth rate in coastal regions where online shopping has already prospered would moderate, while in north and northwestern China, e-commerce has not yet become popular and would gain more room to develop,” said Ye Junnan, partner of Oliver Wyman. 

 


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