Alibaba Singles’ Day volumes climb but analysts suspect weakness

By Kristiane Sherry |

Alibaba Singles' Day 2023 small

Alibaba Singles’ Day 2023 saw volume gains, but financials remain undisclosed. Image: Alibaba

Alibaba brands Taobao and Tmall reported volume gains for the 2023 Singles’ Day campaign, but analysts pointed to weakness after the platform declined to share revenue data.

In a statement, Taobao and Tmall Group said gross merchandise value (GMV), orders and the number of participating merchants increased year-on-year.

The 2021 event, the last time that Alibaba released value results, drew in RMB540.3 billion/US$84.54 billion in total GMV over the first 11 days in November. Alibaba said last year’s performance was “in line” with 2021 sales.

Year-on-year growth for the shopping spectacle in 2021 fell to 8.45% from 26% the year prior.

Alibaba did not disclose figures for 2023, leading Bloomberg commentators to estimate that the platform managed low single-digit gains (paywall).

Analysts pointed to wider macroeconomic challenges, from fragile consumer confidence to GDP slowdown, as factors behind the performance. 

Despite this, Taobao and Tmall Group’s Chief Executive Officer Trudy Dai described Taobao and Tmall’s performance as “solid”. 

“Brand membership programmes continued to play a pivotal role in this year’s 11.11, highlighting our capabilities in supporting merchants to nurture sustainable, long-term consumer loyalty and business opportunities,” she continued. 

Competitive pricing, diverse content offerings and AI-driven tech optimised the experience for both consumers and merchants, Dai added.  

According to analyst Bain, last year’s industry-wide GMV over the Single’s Day season exceeded RMB1 trillion. 

China’s State Post Bureau said express delivery volumes hit a record high during 2023. Over 5.26 billion packages were handled from 1-11 November, a 23.2% year-on-year increase. 

Alibaba Singles’ Day: Discounting and live streams key

A key theme for 2023 was discounting, Bain noted. Taobao and Tmall’s direct discount venue offered 15% price reductions. 

Brands including British beauty-tech business CurrentBody took part in giveaways through the platform. 

According to Alibaba, as of 00:00 China Standard Time on 11 November, 402 brands had passed RMB100m ($13.72 million) in GMV each. Another 38,000 had doubled their GMV performance year-on-year. 

Alibaba’s performance is a strong indicator of traveller sentiment.

As of 00:00 am China Standard Time (CST) on Nov. 11, 402 brands surpassed RMB100 million ($13.72 million) in GMV each, while 38,000 brands more than doubled their GMV year-on-year.

Another trend alongside deep discounting was live streaming. Many brands, including FILA, hosted dedicated livestreams. Alibaba said the brand generated pre-sale values of over RMB100m on Oct 24 on the stream.

Taobao and Tmall said 38 merchant-run livestream channels generated over RMB100 million in GVM each. Another 451 reported RMB100 million GVM gains via live streams over the period. 

In addition to the online activities, Taobao and Tmall hosted a Countdown Gala, while AliExpress held a concert in Madrid on 10 November. 

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