China’s massive Singles’ Day ecommerce festival has grown to surpass pretty much every other online shopping event in the world. The event, which began as a sort of anti-Valentine’s Day for lonely college students to celebrate singledom, was usurped by ecommerce giant Alibaba in 2009 and has grown into an increasingly worldwide event since.
According to figures from China e-Business Research Center (CECRC), the festival, held on November 11, generated RMB254.0 billion in ecommerce sales this year, a 45% spike from last year’s figure.
The CECRC also reported that Alibaba generated the lion’s share of sales during the event, at RMB168.3 billion. Alibaba still appears to hold a first-mover advantage over domestic rival JD.com, which generated RMB127.1 billion in revenues this year.
But new data from Fung Group shows a more nuanced picture of how ecommerce platforms are faring during Singles’ Day. A survey of internet users in China conducted by the firm in November found that more respondents (82%) shopped on Alibaba’s Tmall platform than on any other ecommerce site, including Alibaba-owned marketplace Taobao.
That’s an interesting outcome, given that Taobao is widely credited as the platform that built the foundation of Alibaba’s empire. Alibaba does not manage much inventory on Taobao, instead providing a technological platform that allows consumer-to-consumer (C2C) buyers and sellers to connect with one another, while helping out with payments processing and logistics services.
Taobao became well-known as a place where merchants adopted cutthroat pricing strategies to undercut one another, and—whether deserved or not—as a home for counterfeit items.