Hermes managing director Martijn de Lange looks at the rise and rise of China’s annual shopping event.
So, Black Friday is finally upon us and the industry will see if the months of planning and preparation have paid off.
This year all indications are that it will be bigger than ever, with ecommerce consultancy Salmon predicting that “online sales during November will surpass December, with UK shoppers spending £20bn online in November and £7bn spent over the seven days of Black Friday week”.
There is no doubt that these are significant numbers which will once again test the technology, infrastructure and the teams responsible for ensuring that customers’ increasing expectations for convenient and fast delivery are met.
However, let us spare a thought for our South-East Asian industry counterparts. Last week, they had their equivalent of Black Friday.
Singles’ Day started as an obscure ‘anti-Valentine’s’ celebration for single people in China back in the 1990s and takes place on November 11 every year.
It really came to prominence in 2009, when Chinese ecommerce giant Alibaba began using it to promote retailer discounts on its ecommerce platforms.
Last week it became the world’s largest shopping event as the company announced that its sales hit $25.4bn.
The figure not only surpassed its own record, but also topped Black Friday and Cyber Monday US sales combined – and it is estimated that this has generated 1.5 billion parcel deliveries over six days!
Impact on UK businesses
This also has massive implications for UK businesses looking to break into the huge Chinese ecommerce market.
According to figures from Worldpay, it handled 19% more transactions for UK businesses during Singles’ Day in 2016 than the previous year.
“The current economic climate means international shoppers get more for their money when buying British and there is no disputing the rising purchasing power of the Chinese consumer”
The current economic climate means international shoppers get more for their money when buying British and there is no disputing the rising purchasing power of the Chinese consumer.
Therefore, it is vital that the delivery sector supports its retail customers by providing strong international services that are both cost-effective and reliable to enable them to maximise these and other overseas opportunities and to compete in these lucrative markets.
We will need to continue to build consumer confidence regardless of location.
In the coming years the challenges we face during the peak period (and throughout the year) will not just be about volumes and consumer expectations.
They will be about delivering consistently high standards of service anywhere in the world as the ecommerce revolution continues its phenomenal journey. This will mean more investment, better technology and a global mindset and culture.
I for one am very excited about the opportunities for Hermes, our customers and the industry.
- Martijn de Lange is managing director of Hermes