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China’s 11.11 – the global shopping festival showing no sign of slowing down

2018-11-11 12 minute read China; Global

11.11 Global Shopping Festival 2018 / Image credit: Alizila

This year, China celebrates the 10th anniversary of the 11.11 Global Shopping Festival, also know as Singles Day, or Double Eleven. We’re looking at some of the key milestones that defined this year’s 24-hour shopping marathon, with a more in-depth analysis to follow soon.

The Tmall team (Alibaba Group’s main retail platform) is now wrapping up, while the logistics staff is going to have an extremely busy night processing a staggering number of deliveries. Today was the culmination of an intense few weeks of testing and preparations, concluding with a busy 24 hours where every second was worth approximately ¥2.5 million RMB on average. This competitive spirit has been hailed as the “Business Olympics”.

Let’s take a look at some of the key milestones that have been achieved today, as the day unfolded.

Some observers cast doubts if this is sustainable, (…) leave the worry to the giants that make this happen, and seek ways to embrace the opportunity.Anita Zhang, ACOLINK CEO

This years’ record-breaking figures are a significant part of China’s continuous consumption growth. For exporters, it also demonstrates the fast developing cross-border, e-commerce markets cropping up in cities other than tier one (places like Beijing and Shanghai). With less established foreign brands in these thriving marketplaces, prospective exporters have a greater chance to create a strong market presence, a highly targeted export strategy and better access to China’s large consumer demographic.

Once the data from all the other major platforms is available, we will follow up with a more in-depth analysis on the process and the trends that will give us important clues as to what to expect from China’s upcoming shopping events (12.12, Christmas, Chinese New Year, and next year’s 6.18 and 11.11).

Business Olympics – breaking records

Double Eleven shopping festival is well known for consistently breaking the previous year’s records. This 10th year is no different, with Tmall setting a number of new records, and no sign of slowing down.

Singles Day 2018 (11.11) total GMV: ¥213.5bn RMB ($30.8bn), 27% growthTmall 11.11
  • Just in the first 2 minutes, the GMV (Gross Merchandise Value) surpassed ¥10 billion RMB, and it took only another 1 hour 45 minutes to pass the ¥100 billion RMB mark.
  • One hour and 40 seconds in, total GMV exceeded $10 billion USD, and did it 5 minutes and 21 seconds faster than last year.
  • At 15:49, total GMV surpassed the total GMV of 2017 11.11, ¥168.2 billion RMB.
  • By 17:32, the sales passed the $25.3bn mark (the previous year’s sales in USD).
  • 22:28, Tmall GMV exceeded ¥200 billion RMB, with another 1.5 hours to go.

The final results were:

  • Alibaba Group GMV achieved a new breaking record of ¥213.5 billion RMB ($30.8bn)
  • Number of brands exceeding ¥100 million RMB in GMV: 237
  • Number of countries/regions with completed transactions: 230
  • Across all the key e-commerce platforms in China, combined GMV has exceeded ¥300 billion RMB, breaking another record.

Most popular imported brands

The top 10 countries/regions selling to China by GMV were:

  1. Japan
  2. United States
  3. Korea
  4. Australia
  5. Germany
  6. United Kingdom
  7. France
  8. Spain
  9. New Zealand
  10. Italy

When the sales started, the top 10 imported brands bought by Chinese consumers were:

  1. Swisse (vitamin, supplement, and personal care products; Australia)
  2. KAO (cosmetics; Japan)
  3. Moony (baby diapers; Japan)
  4. Aptamil (baby milk and formula, Danone; France)
  5. Dr.Ci:Labo (skin care; Japan)
  6. MartiDerm (cosmetics; Spain)
  7. A.H.C (cosmetics, skin care; Korea)
  8. Bio Island (nutritional supplements and health foods; Australia)
  9. GNC (health and nutrition, sports nutrition; U.S.)
  10. Move Free (joint care supplements, Schiff; U.S.)

Volume of delivery orders

Number of delivery orders exceeded 812 million by 16:48, surpassing the total number of delivery orders of 2017 11.11. The final number of delivery orders exceeded 1 billion within 24 hours, from 180,000 brands.

Number of delivery orders in the 24 hours: 1.05 billionTmall 11.11

This year, Alibaba built a new ecosystem to enhance consumer confidence and build a trusting environment for cross-border e-commerce trade. This gives full transparency in the end-to-end supply-chain. Once an order is made on Tmall Global, the Chinese consumer will be able to get shipment updates through the Taobao app on their mobile, they can also track the location of their order in real-time thanks to LBS and GPS tracking technology.

Top 10 provinces by consumer spending growth

The following is a list of top 10 provinces that first surpassed last year’s shopping value of sales.

  1. Shanxi
  2. Beijing (Beijing cross-border e-commerce pilot zone)
  3. Ningxia
  4. Chongqing
  5. Henan
  6. Tianjin
  7. Shanghai
  8. Liaoning (Shenyang cross-border e-commerce pilot zone)
  9. Jilin (Changchun cross-border e-commerce pilot zone)
  10. Shanxi (Xi’an cross-border e-commerce pilot zone)

Cross-border e-commerce pilot zone were key drivers of 11.11’s sales. Their attractive export-positive policies mean that exporters to China can continually leverage a more defined target demographic and export strategy; boosting sales through lowered costs and time-to-market.

Beyond Alibaba


China’s second-largest e-commerce platform. JD’s Double Eleven Global Goods Festival, recorded an order volume exceeding ¥100 billion RMB this year (sales from November 1 to 11 were ¥159.8 billion RMB). High-quality products are most popular, well-known domestic brands and imported goods were highly sought after by consumers. Young consumers also showed strong purchasing power.


In just 3 minutes and 49 seconds, NetEase Kaola sales broke ¥100 million RMB. At 00:26, a consumer in Jinhua City (Zhejiang Province) received imported diapers that had just been purchased on Kaola’s website. This was the first cross-border product delivered from Kaola this Double Eleven. Thanks to a bonded warehouse located in Hangzhou, the delivery time for cross-border orders was cut from the usual 10-15 days to a mere 26 minutes.


Suning is the leading e-commerce platform for home appliances and small electrical products. Within just the first 4 seconds of launching the sales, Suning’s GMV surpassed ¥100 million RMB, exceeding ¥1 billion RMB in the first 50 seconds. We have received reports that Suning’s first-hour sales increased by 153% year-on-year, with the value of sales for air conditioners exceeding 100 million in just 35 seconds.


VIP.com officially launched their Double Eleven sales at 8pm on 10th November, in the first hour of sales they processed in excess of 2 million orders. VIP’s first happy customer signed for their delivery only 12 minutes and 25 seconds after placing an order on the platform.

Innovation in progress

When asked about sustainability, our CEO, Anita Zhang said: “Although some observes cast doubts if this is sustainable, with profit margins in some areas being naturally affected, it is important to not just fixate on the final result — the figure, but look deeper and recognize how the process, and the festival itself evolves, drives innovation, creates new opportunities, and how it ripples through the economy, industries, and society. And have been doing so over the past 10 years. This is innovation in progress. I’d say — don’t worry whether this [11.11 festival] is sustainable — leave the worry to the giants that make this happen, and seek ways to embrace the opportunity.”

The bottom line

The trends seen during the 11.11 Global Shopping Festival are important in the sense that they give us very important clues of what to expect from the upcoming shopping events (12.12, Christmas, Chinese New Year, next year’s 618, 11.11, and so on). In the coming weeks, together with our partners in China, we will be looking at the data to better understand the changing consumer behaviour, market trends, and also the challenges and opportunities (subscribe to our newsletter to receive further updates and insights).

(Update 2018-11-13: included further figures and the volume of sales recorded by JD.com during their November 1-11 sale)