Alibaba-owned Lazada saw 'record' sales on Singles Day, its Singapore CEO says

Key Points
  • Southeast Asia's e-commerce giant Lazada saw as many as 40 million users flock to its platform over Singles Day — the 24-hour shopping event where brands offer promotions and steep discounts.
  • Though Singles Day initially started in China, its popularity is spreading across Southeast Asia where many retailers are adopting the event to dole out discounts.
  • E-commerce is predicted to be the main growth driver for Southeast Asia's internet economy that's expected to hit $300 billion by 2025.
The Lazada application seen displayed on a iPhone.
Guillaume Payen | LightRocket | Getty Images

SINGAPORE — Southeast Asian e-commerce firm Lazada saw a "record" number of sales on its platform during Singles Day, according to the company's Singapore head.

Singles Day is typically a 24-hour shopping period that started in China and is also known as Double 11 since it happens on Nov. 11. Many retailers across Southeast Asia have since adopted the event, giving customers steep discounts and attractive promotions on the day.

"This year 11.11 yesterday, we had 40 million customers come into our app and more than 400,000 sellers transacting that day," James Chang, CEO of Lazada Singapore, said on CNBC's "Street Signs Asia" on Thursday.

A Lazada representative later clarified with CNBC that the 40 million that Chang mentioned in his interview referred to the number of users who accessed the platform, and not all of them made purchases.

This 11.11 was a new record for us across the board.
James Chang
CEO of Lazada Singapore

Though Lazada does not separately disclose its total gross merchandise value, Chang told CNBC that the firm achieved more than $100 million of sales in the first hour of the shopping event, between midnight and 1 a.m. "Which is about three times faster than what it would've taken us last year to reach that figure, so, overall it's been a fantastic campaign," he said.

GMV is a metric most commonly used in e-commerce that measures the total dollar value of goods sold over a certain period of time.

"One thing that we're very proud of is more than half of those 400,000 sellers across Southeast Asia were local (small-and-medium businesses) and small retailers," Chang said.

He explained that many of those small retailers were looking for online exposure as the coronavirus pandemic made it more difficult for them to have in-store sales due to lockdowns and movement restrictions in many countries.

"This 11.11 was a new record for us across the board," Chang said.

Lazada's parent company Alibaba said its total GMV was $74.1 billion over a 11-day period — this year's promotions were extended beyond the usual 24 hours on Alibaba's platforms.

Alibaba and JD Retail set record Singles Day transactions this year
Alibaba and JD Retail set record Singles Day transactions this year

With its relatively large and young population, Southeast Asia provides a lucrative opportunity outside China and India for many tech companies as more people are now connecting to the internet for the first time. In fact, the region's internet economy is expected to hit $100 billion this year before increasing three times to $300 billion by 2025.

E-commerce is predicted to be the main growth driver for Southeast Asia's internet economy. Covid-19 has resulted in greater adoption of services like online shopping, online food delivery and online payments in the region.

Those shifts in user behavior are expected to stay even after the pandemic subsides.