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Singles Day sales hit record high at $38.5 billion USD

The Chinese retailer Alibaba Group have announced their 24-hour sales record has once again been broken, on the Chinese shopping event known as ‘Singles Day’, with recorded sales of $38.5 billion.

This year, the sales in one day were greater than Amazon’s online sales throughout the last quarter. Despite surpassing lasts year’s figure of $30.8 billion, however, the growth in sales was the lowest since the event began in 2009, at 26%. This points to the eCommerce industry in China going through a stage of decline, as the country is facing a historic low in its economic growth.

Originally created as a fun holiday for students who wished to celebrate being single, it has now become  a month of shopping deals that culminate on November 11th with a 24-hour sale, similar to that of Black Friday. In its opening year, 27 brands were involved. Last year, Alibaba announced that it worked with 180,000 brands over 200 countries.

The day was kicked off by Alibaba with a live Taylor Swift concert, followed later by a livestream of brand marketing. The company disclosed that 84 of the brands they worked with made over 100 million yuan ($14.2 million), in the first hour. These brands included Apple, L’Oreal and Uniqlo.

Taylor Swift performing at singles day

Image from Tech Crunch

Livestreaming has become an important sales tool during the shopping festival. Over half of the brands selling on Alibaba utilized livestreaming, and by 8.55 am, sales through the medium had surpassed 10 billion yuan, according to Alibaba.

“Nearly all our brands have opted for live streaming promotions sometime this year,” said Josh Gardner, who helps overseas companies sell products on Tmall as CEO of Kung Fu Data.

“It’s more entertaining than browsing through a product detail page. Traffic from live streaming is easy to convert into transactions, and Tmall has supported stores that run live streaming activities with resources.”

Clinician, a New Zealand based company who make nutritional supplements, have been using livestreams to sell in the Chinese market. The company experienced a 40% uptick in sales after setting up a livestream booth on Alibaba’s campus six months ago.

“This is a product form from New Zealand, everything is in English, and so many people are selling similar products, so customers wonder, ‘Which one do I choose from?’” Gardner told Reuters. “Having a live streamer can help to break those barriers.”

Tmall is forecasting large growth this year, with around 100 million more purchases than last year expected. They are also looking to areas outside China’s major cities.

“The younger generation is buying more, and the customer from rural areas, the customers from lower-tier cities, they are buying imported products,” Tmall General Manager Alvin Liu told reporters.

Zalando announce new sustainability plan

Zalando Boxes

Image from Retail Gazette

German-based eCommerce firm Zalando announced they are committing to a net-zero carbon footprint throughout its own operations, deliveries, and returns.

The company made public a number of sustainable initiatives they will be putting in place over the coming months, as part of what they are calling the ‘do.MORE’ strategy.

This involves meeting the goals set out in the Paris Climate Agreement for its own operations and attempting to become single-use plastic-free in their packaging by 2023.

The firm already made the switch to renewable energy this year, with 90% of its energy across all locations being renewable. The company has also made changes in its packaging, with boxes made up of 100% recycled materials.

The retailer also said that its private label ‘Zign’, which usually offers shoes and accessories, has extended into other forms of apparel, making it the main sustainable label belonging to Zalando. Zign has aimed to be sustainable by Spring/Summer 2020 and will feature Zalando’s sustainability flag.

Discussing the announcement, Zalando co-CEO Rubin Ritter said: “The fashion industry is facing sustainability challenges and we know we have been part of the problem. Going forward, our aspiration is to be part of the solution. We see a clear link between acting sustainability and continued commercial success. Only those who incorporate sustainability into their business strategy will stay relevant for their customers.”

Many other companies have made sustainability a priority in the last year. French conglomerate Kering announced it was aiming to become carbon neutral. Amazon said it is trying to become net-zero carbon by 2040, while American Eagle said it will do the same by 2030. Timberland announced that it will be planting 50 million trees around the world by 2025 to help make a positive environmental impact.


Nike and Amazon part ways

Nike logo

Image from CNBC

Nike has decided to stop using Amazon to sell sneakers and clothing, ending a two-year pilot program that started in 2017.

Nike has turned its focus to eCommerce of late, hiring ex-eBay CEO as its own new CEO, however it seems that selling on Amazon is no longer part of their plans going forward.

Many other brands have avoided using Amazon as a sales platform, partly due to the availability of fake and counterfeit products on the site, which lowers the value of a brand’s goods. According to Bloomberg, the news that Nike has stepped away from the platform is likely to increase any worries about the platform other brands already had.

A spokesperson for Amazon said that the company has been preparing for the split for some time, working with third-party sellers to make sure Nike products are still available on the site. Nike shares rose 1.4% in the New York stock exchange, with Amazon’s falling by 0.6%.

Before Nike joined Amazon in 2017, the bulk of Nike goods available on the platform were either gray market (goods not obtained from an official supplier) or counterfeit items. Part of the hope that Nike executives had joining the platform was that it would allow them more control to differentiate their real products from fakes and have counterfeit sellers removed from the site. However, this did not happen exactly as they had hoped, with counterfeit sellers often popping up under new names after being removed. As well as this, the official Nike products had fewer reviews given they were new on the Amazon market and often had worse positioning on the site.