Can Double 11 online shopping spree go global?
Published: Nov 01, 2020 09:09 PM

Double 11 Photo: VCG

It was a busy night for some young Chinese, out enjoying the Halloween celebrations before rushing to the battlefield of Alibaba's annual Double 11 shopping festival, which kicked off on Sunday.

It is the first year that Alibaba has announced an extension to the shopping extravaganza by adding the first three days of November as an initial shopping window, followed by the traditional big sales on November 11, in a bid to allow merchants to have more exposure to potential customers.

What kind of sales record the first post-epidemic Double 11 online shopping spree could achieve is a question that is bound to attract widespread attention from the market both at home and abroad, as the shopping festival has now become an important indicator of Chinese consumer confidence and the momentum of China's economic recovery.

As the shopping festival continues, it remains unclear how the extended Double 11 event will fare. But some early statistics may offer us some clues: 100 brands saw their transactions on Alibaba's Tmall exceed 100 million yuan ($14.9 million) just 111 minutes into the shopping spree, while's online supermarket saw turnover grow by more than 700 percent year-on-year in the first 10 minutes of the shopping window. Such key performances are sufficient to show that the Chinese economy is on track to recover with promising consumer market potential.

At a time when the global economy and demand have taken enormous hits from the pandemic, companies around the world will inevitably be attracted to China's vast consumer market, and during this process, there is a need for them to learn about China's Double 11 festival and the development of the country's online economy to find their way in a promising market.

Of course, there is still a long way to go to turn the Double 11 shopping festival into a global spectacle, which will require the participation and efforts of foreign companies and the support of Chinese businesses, platforms and relevant authorities.

Some observers are concerned that the shopping event this year may not be so bullish for overseas brands as seen in previous years, as consumers may shun cross-border orders that could take longer than usual for delivery due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. According to a recent survey by global consulting firm Alixpartners, 66 percent of Chinese consumers said they would shop for domestic brands over foreign ones during the Double 11 shopping festival this year. 

Against such a backdrop, e-commerce giants have made some preparations to address these concerns to ensure the shopping spree is a global event. Many global brands have already shipped products into their Chinese warehouses; other foreign merchants may even use chartered flights. It remains to be seen whether these measures will work to offset the pandemic impact this year.

Whatever the result is, it will be an inevitable trend for the Double 11 festival to attract growing international interest, especially during the pandemic, which underlines the appeal of China's huge market for global industry, something that cannot be weakened by geopolitical factors.

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