- Alibaba on Friday kicked off the festival for its annual massive shopping event.
- The sale day, widely known as "Singles Day," takes place on Nov. 11 and Alibaba is hoping its "New Retail" strategy will help it be bigger than the previous year.
- Total gross merchandise value generated in 2017 from the event was $25.3 billion. In comparison, online sales for Black Friday in the U.S. racked up $5 billion last year, according to data from Adobe.
Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba said that its upcoming mega-shopping event will be the largest-ever in terms of "scale and reach" as it looks to continue growing what has become a multibillion-dollar sales day.
The event, which takes places on Nov. 11, is Alibaba's day of massive sales across all of its platforms and has been compared to Black Friday in the United States. Widely known as "Singles Day," the event is also known as the 11:11 shopping festival because of the date it takes place.
It's the 10th anniversary of the event, which was created by current Alibaba CEO Daniel Zhang in 2009. Back then, Singles Day brought in $7.8 million in gross merchandise value. Total GMV generated in 2017 was $25.3 billion. In comparison, online sales for Black Friday in the U.S. racked up $5 billion last year, according to data from Adobe.
Alibaba did not offer any forecast for this year's sales.
On Friday, Alibaba officially kicked off the festival with an event in Beijing, China, where Zhang outlined how the company's so-called "new retail" strategy will help make this year's event be the largest ever "in terms of scale and reach," according to a press release.
For Alibaba, that strategy means touching consumers' lives more often by combining its core e-commerce sites Tmall and Taobao with physical stores, logistics, food delivery and more. Zhang has spoken over the past year about that new strategy, and Alibaba has been acting on the plan by spreading its tentacles across different sectors.
"Over the last two years, we have pioneered the concept of New Retail to accelerate the digital transformation of the offline," Zhang said in a statement on Friday.
"We are excited by the impressive results achieved to date and will continue to be the driving force innovating for merchants and customers in the coming decades," the CEO added.
For the first time, Lazada, a Singapore-based e-commerce site that has operations across Southeast Asia, will host sales as part of Singles Day. Alibaba has invested $4 billion so far in that company. For its part, the Chinese firm will be hoping Lazada can attract customers across Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam and Singaporeto the sales event.
Meanwhile, Ele.me, Alibaba's food delivery platform, will provide delivery services for select Starbucks stores across 11 Chinese cities, including full coverage in Beijing and Shanghai. Starbucks and Alibaba struck a deal earlier this year to work together in China.
Alibaba will be hoping that its multi-country and multi-platform approach to Singles Day will help it beat the event's previous sales record from 2017 and give investors something to cheer about.
That could be a welcome turn of events given that the company's stock is down over 17 percent so far this year.