AliExpress, the global retail online marketplace of Alibaba Group, is adding local merchants from Russia, Spain, Italy and Turkey for the first time to its global shopping festival extravaganza - Singles’ Day - in a bid to help local small- and medium-sized business (SMEs) grow in international markets.
In China, 11.11 is known as “Singles’ Day” because the date resembles four sticks, a term commonly used to refer to bachelors and bachelorettes but it has evolved into a nation-wide shopping event over the past decade.
It is the largest 24-hour sales event in the world, surpassing the combined sales of Black Friday and Cyber Monday in the US. International merchants have, for many years, used 11.11 to sell to Chinese consumers on the Tmall and Tmall Global platform.
Alibaba's first event in 2009 did sales of $7.8m. Last year, consumers spent $30.8b during the 24 hours.
In its 11th year, the event will be for 48 hours instead of the usual 24 hours.
“Alibaba Group’s broader vision to make it easy to do business anywhere, AliExpress opened its platform in early 2019 to allow overseas merchants to self-register and sell locally and globally,” Matt Zhang, Head of Middle East operations at AliExpress, told TechRadar Middle East.
He said that Middle East is one of the most important markets for AliExpress but “currently we are focusing on the four pilot countries, making sure the merchants succeed before we expand to other countries and region.”
Mideast has huge room to grow
“We have launched localisation operations in the Middle East since 2018 with several initiatives to improve the user experience, including AliExpress Direct fast shipping method, cash on delivery service and localised marketing operation,” Zhang said.
In the past year, he said that the e-commerce growth rate in the Middle East has increased significantly but compared to the 20% e-commerce penetration rate in China, Middle East only takes around 2-3% of the overall retail sales, with a huge room to grow.
The most popular categories among Mideast consumers include consumers electronics, home and garden, motorcycles, mother and kids, fashion related to clothes and jewellery.
“We’ve prepared different promotions and activities for Mideast customers this year. During the sales event, we will provide the best deal of the year on a variety of products. We will co-brand with several banks, including Riyad Bank, FAB and Citi bank, and telecom operator Zain to provide the AliExpress coupon to their consumers for them to shop on AliExpress with its direct fast shipping method. We will also partner with Tiktok to showcase the 11.11 hot items,” he said.
After the success of AliExpress event, Amazon UAE has joined the bandwagon and its Prime members will get their deals one day earlier, on November 10.
AliExpress serves more than 200 countries and regions around the world including Russia, Spain, France, the US, Brazil, Poland and the Middle East, to name a few.