E-commerce records: “The pandemic will affect November sales for the better”

11.11 records on the eve of Black Friday: the turnover of Chinese online platforms exceeded the volume of Russian online trade for 3 years

E-commerce records: “The pandemic will affect November sales for the better”
Photo: pixabay.com

The global online sale 11.11 died down last week, which managed to beat the indicators of previous years, despite the coronacrisis. The Chinese online platforms Alibaba and JD.com earned a record $115 billion, which exceeded the volume of the Russian e-commerce market for 3 years. Now the world is preparing for Black Friday, officially starting on November 27, and in fact, it began a few days earlier. Realnoe Vremya compared the sales volumes and popularity of both promotions, and also found out how the pandemic has affected consumers' attitude to sales and whether one should trust the announced discounts at all.

Sales on Singles' Day outstrip total volume of online commerce in Russia

November is traditionally considered the month of large-scale sales, since it falls on “Global Shopping Day”, also known as Singles' Day, and Black Friday.

Global Shopping Day is held on November 11 and is more focused on online shopping. If we talk about the history of the global campaign 11.11, it was invented and launched in 2009 by the founders of the Internet giant Alibaba Group, Jack Ma and Daniel Zhang to make a name for themselves and stay afloat in a highly competitive market. The unexpected and resounding success of the Chinese businessmen inspired online stores and marketplaces around the world to launch a similar promotion — so we got the global sale 11.11.

This year, Alibaba Group, which started the history of 11.11, decided to launch the promotion in advance — on November 1 — and set a new sales record: as of November 11, the total value of orders on Alibaba platforms since November 1 exceeded $56.42 billion.

November is traditionally considered the month of large-scale sales, since it falls on “Global Shopping Day”, also known as Singles' Day, and Black Friday. Photo: Lutsia Kashapova

It is noteworthy that Alibaba's sales in 10 days exceeded the total volume of online trade in Russia over the past 2 years. According to the Association of E-Commerce Companies (AKIT), in 2018, the market volume in our country amounted to 1,6 trillion rubles ($20.9 billion at the exchange rate as of November 11, 2020). Last year, this figure was 2,032 trillion rubles, or $26 billion.

If you take into account the success of another popular online platform JD.com, both Chinese platforms earned a record $115 billion, which is even more than the volume of Russian online trade in 3 years.

Month-long Black Friday

There's Black Friday ahead — the American traditional sale, which is considered one of the most recognisable in the world. It is curious that, despite the promoted brand, Black Friday has long been inferior to the Chinese Singles' Day in terms of sales. For comparison, in 2017, users spent more than $25 billion on 11.11, while the two American sales combined reached only $ 11billion.

The promotion is held annually on the last Friday of November and covers not only online but also offline sites around the world. There are 12 days left until the official start of black Friday 2020, but many retailers are cutting prices on their products in advance: some are launching the promotion this week, while others started selling discounted products at the end of October.

Gold Apple holds the campaign from November 2 to November 30, and L'etoile — from October 30 to November 30. Photo: Maksim Platonov

For example, Black Friday is in full swing on Ozon, Gold apple holds it from November 2 to November 30, and L'etoile — from October 30 to November 30. Wildberries begins discounts on November 23 and finish them on November 29, and Citilink electronic discounter starts the sale on November 16, planning to complete it only on December 4. Each retailer and marketplace has its own terms and rules for the promotion, which are better specified on the official websites.

“This year, more people and money will be attracted to the sale”

According to the president of the National Association of Remote Trade (NART), Alexander Ivanov, “the pandemic will affect both sales for the better”.

“The population already has a significant drop in income and this, of course, stifles trade. It's terrible that this is happening. At the same time, a sale is an opportunity to spend your small income wisely. In my opinion, this year more people and more money will be attracted to the sale, as the buyer has become more careful about money," the expert believes.

Linar Khusnullin, the founder of KazanExpress marketplace, agrees with Ivanov's position and confirms this with the figures obtained after the weekly 11.11 campaign.

“On "11.11, we received 30,000 orders, despite that we usually receive about 15,000 a day. This is a day when all our office employees come to the warehouse and help their colleagues," says the entrepreneur. “I can say that the coronavirus in general has accelerated the growth of online commerce twofold. This has also affected sales — more and more customers are coming. People save money and therefore can afford to buy more products.

Although the American sale is far from the Chinese one in terms of its indicators, its volumes are still growing, experts say.

“The popularity of Black Friday is growing every year: in 2019, the growth was 30 per cent compared to 2018 (22,3 billion and 17,4 billion rubles, respectively). We think that this year's growth will be much greater. Restrictive measures due to the pandemic have created new consumer habits, people are more likely to shop online: online sales have reached a historic high — they account for 10,9 per cent of the total retail volume. The audience in the online shops has increased threefold. And if earlier purchases were made by people from 18 to 35 years old, now buyers over 55 are actively attracted," said the president of AKIT, Artem Sokolov.

According to the Association's forecasts, the coronavirus will also make adjustments to consumer demand: clothing, shoes, electronics and household appliances, food and essential goods are traditionally popular on sales days. It is expected that this time among the most popular will also be sporting goods and creative goods. “Besides, for the first time this year, it will be possible to buy jewelry on the Internet at a sale, the sale of which we have managed to legalise," Sokolov said.

“At the start, the fraud was really massive”

Sales, according to Alexander Ivanov, are always marketing, but “this frightening word does not mean that someone is deceiving someone”, while it is worth noting that complaints related to fake discounts and other unfair manipulations of sellers are heard every year.

“Many buyers and public organisations record all this. Perhaps, there will be such cases this year as well — I do not know, but every year there are fewer and fewer of them. At the time of the launch, the fraud was really massive, but in recent years there have been just isolated cases," the president of NADT assures.

In turn, Linar Khusnullin, whose company is now preparing for Black Friday, told our publication about the decision to replay the established name of the sale, turning it into “Fair Friday”.

“We strictly monitor this and severely penalise unscrupulous sellers. In general, increased control and buyer's awareness, who has already learned to understand whether a discount is real or not, generally have a positive effect. The rest, of course, all depends on a specific company, the expert summarises.

By Lina Sarimova