Alibaba Follows JD in 11.11 Shopping Festival Launch

Alibaba aims to grow its market with imported and luxury products this year at the 11.11 festival after acquiring Kaola.

Belinda Zhou
    Oct 21, 2019 5:00 PM  PT
Alibaba Follows JD in 11.11 Shopping Festival Launch
author: Belinda Zhou   

Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. (NYSE: BABA) announced on Monday it is kicking off its Singles' Day sales after rival Inc. (Nasdaq: JD) launched its annual festival last week.

China's largest e-commerce platform, Alibaba said in a statement today that it is rolling out its sales for consumers globally in a spree that will traditionally culminate on November 11, or Singles' Day. 

Fan Jiang, the e-commerce head of Alibaba, stressed that the event this year is driven by innovation.

"We will enable merchants in China and around the world to grow their businesses through data-driven product innovation and consumer insights, as well as leverage our recommendation technology and content-driven user engagement to delight consumers in urban coastal cities and less-developed areas of China," Jiang said in the statement.

Competition between China's biggest retailers continues to heat up. Last week, Alibaba's rival JD launched sales early, aiming to take a larger share of the market. JD has recently launched a discounter shopping platform Jingxi, targeting small and medium-sized cities in China, similar to Pinduoduo Inc. (Nasdaq: PDD) and Alibaba's Jusuansuan. has also been fighting Alibaba in court for alleged violation of fair competition.

Singles' Day was created in 2009 by Daniel Zhang, Alibaba's chief executive officer. It was popularized as a day for China's singles to buy gifts for themselves and traditionally took place on November 11. 

On Monday, the company said it expects more than 500 million customers to participate in this year's 11.11 festival through mobile devices. That means an increase of 100 million participants from last year and one out of every three Chinese will participate, according to various local media.

The e-commerce leader said the sales and promotion activities will save consumers at least 50 billion yuan ($7 billion) at the press conference today.

Recently, Alibaba reinforced its import business line by acquiring online luxury retailer Kaola from NetEase inc. (Nasdaq: NTES) for $2 billion in September. The company said Monday that Kaola covered more than 78 countries and regions with 22,000 overseas brands, keeping the addition of new international brands with 300% year-over-year growth.

Meanwhile, Alibaba's domestic platform Tmall is also growing.

"Tmall International has grown to be the largest import platform in China," Peng Liu, the general manager of Tmall Import and Export Group, said at a conference in September. Liu also said the target consumers of Tmall International are China's youth born after the 90s, which make up 55% of all purchasers and have a "strong demand for diversified import lifestyles."

Last year on Singles' Day, Alibaba's Tmall hit record gross merchandise volume of 213.5 billion yuan ($30.5 billion), representing an increase of 27% year-over-year. Meanwhile, sold goods worth 159.8 billion yuan ($22.5 billion), up 25.7%, according to public reports. Pinduoduo reported threefold orders.

Shares in Alibaba closed on Monday at $173.52 per American depositary share, up nearly 3%. JD's stock price jumped nearly 4%, closing at $31.03 per ADS. Pinduoduo closed up 2%, at $34 per share.