Black Friday has been regarded as one of the major shopping days in the US for a number of years, serving as the first major sales day in the lead-up to Christmas, but in recent years this tradition has expanded out of the US and into to Europe.
Many physical and online retailers have sought to take advantage of this trend by introducing discounts on a wide range of products in a bid to increase sales as consumers’ attention turns to Christmas.
With more people shopping online this year due to restrictions on physical retail due to Covid-19, demand was much higher, with AliExpress reporting a huge increase in demand for Christmas items.
Sales of Christmas mugs rocketed by more than 300% year-on-year, while sales of Christmas cutlery sets jumped by over 100%. Coffee product sales increased 120% year-on-year, while tableware and kitchenware products climbed 50%.
AliExpress also noted that its one-click order option for Christmas trees proved popular with consumers, with a 40% YoY increase of sales, those pre-stocked in local warehouses reaching customers in Europe within three to five days.
Switching attention to the 11.11 Global Shopping Festival, which falls on 11 November each year to coincide with unofficial Chinese holiday of Single’s Day, this is AliExpress’s biggest sales day of the year, where the retailer offers significant discounts across a range of items.
This year, AliExpress was able to set a number of new records, including that it was able to process more global transactions in the first four hours of the Global Shopping Festival than the total of number recorded on the same day in 2019.
Figures for French and Spanish sales were also impressive, with the number of recorded transactions in the first half an hour of the Global Shopping Festival surpassing the total for the first hour of the special event in 2019.
Gross merchandise value (GMV) from international sellers including Russia, Spain, Italy, Turkey and France increased 350% year-on-year, helped by the addition of French merchants, which joined the initiative for the first time this year. Among them, GMV from Spanish sellers was up 300% compared to 2019, while GMV from the top 10 sellers in France jumped 100-fold compared to their average daily performance.
What’s in your basket?
Looking more closely at local trends, the most popular purchases among Spanish consumers were telephones and telecommunications, products, fashion and footwear, beauty and health, and sports and entertainment.
The picture was similar in France where telephones and telecommunications, and sports and entertainment were among the top purchases, as well as home and garden, toys and hobbies, and consumer electronics.
In Poland, consumer electronics also proved popular, alongside beauty and toys, homes appliances and, interestingly, automobiles.
Connecting with local consumers was also a key focus for retailers this year, with AliExpress having collaborated with 300 live-streamers in 2020, four times the amount it worked with last year.
According to AliExpress, live-streaming helps to break down language barriers that may otherwise have an impact on sales. As such, this supports translations from Chinese into English, Russian and Spanish, as well as English into Russian and Spanish.
As to how this transformed to sales, AliExpress said some 8m viewers watched nearly 10,000 live-streaming sessions, while the highest conversion rate from live-streaming was 300%.
Right on time!
Such is the geographical range of AliExpress’s service offering that the retailer said it was critical it had in place a strong and efficient delivery chain to ensure products reached consumers in good time after the Festival.
Some 300 chartered flights were secured within two weeks of the 2020 Festival, including more than 100 flights to Europe and, as a result, selected products were able to reach customers in 10 working days across Spain, France and Poland.
The first cross-border products were with consumers in Spain in just five days, followed by France in six days and Poland in seven days.
However, such is the diversification of AliExpress’s offering that it has in place a network of local warehouses across Europe, meaning certain items could be sent to customers faster.
As such, the first order from a local warehouse in Spain reached the customer within half a day, while a Polish consumers received their order from a local warehouse in the country in just 21 hours. France’s orders took a little longer as 11 November is a holiday in the country.
Leaving a lasting, positive impression on consumers across various countries is no easy task, but by reacting to high levels of demand and delivering products in good time, AliExpress has enhanced its reputation.
And with Covid-19 restrictions on physical retail set to remain in place for some time, online will remain the main source of shopping for consumers around the world.