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Everything You Need to Know About ePacket Shipping: ePacket Delivery Explained-Products From China

by Corey Ferreira

More businesses from all over the world are moving online, and more and more customers are making purchases from stores outside their country.

As business owners, we need to be aware of the changing competitive landscape. And one aspect of business that is constantly changing is shipping.

ePacket shipping has made buying products from China a lot easier. To maintain a competitive advantage over merchants in China, it’s important to understand what ePacket shipping is and why it has become a popular shipping method from China and Hong Kong.

If you’re using Oberlo or AliExpress to source and dropship products to customers, this article will be even more beneficial to you. I will be explaining how ePacket shipping works, as well as answering the common questions regarding ePacket delivery.

What is ePacket shipping and tracking?
ePacket is a shipping option offered by merchants in China and Hong Kong. It allows these merchants to provide a fast and affordable shipping option for light packages.

In 2011, the United States Postal Service formally announced the new shipping service and agreement with Hongkong Post and eBay China, allowing packages from China and Hong Kong to receive USPS First Class Mail Service along with a delivery confirmation service.

As the name (“e”Packet) implies, the shipping service was designed for ecommerce, to make it more affordable and quicker for consumers to receive their purchases from online stores and marketplaces that shipped out from China and Hong Kong.

In the past, China EMS was the only affordable and reasonable option to ship consumer products overseas to customers. However, it would often take over a month or longer for customers to receive their purchase. Other quicker options were too expensive, especially for small inexpensive products.

ePacket delivery began as a quick and affordable shipping solution from China and Hong Kong to the United States. Over the years, ePacket has expanded into 35 other countries such as Canada and Australia.

How ePacket tracking works
ePacket delivery gives customers end-to-end tracking at no additional cost, allowing them to easily monitor and locate their package on official websites such as EMS and USPS. Any undeliverable mail is returned for free as well, which means merchants will have no issues refunding customers that never receive their purchase.

You will often see ePacket offered as a shipping option by merchants from China on websites such as eBay, AliExpress, and Oberlo. However, any merchant in China and Hong Kong can offer ePacket shipping if the package meets the requirements for an ePacket delivery.

What are the requirements to use ePacket delivery?
According to the United States Postal Service, there are some requirements when it comes to the package or parcel being sent with ePacket. The maximum length of the package can only be 24” (60cm) and the total length, height and thickness of the package cannot be more than 36” (90cm).


ePacket delivery package dimensions

Example of an International ePacket from Japan Post

Additionally, the package cannot weigh more than 4.4 lbs (2kg) to qualify for ePacket delivery and the merchandise being shipped cannot exceed $400 in value.

The package also must be shipped from either China or Hong Kong to one of the 35 eligible countries.

Which countries have ePacket shipping available?
As of February 2018, 35 countries support ePacket deliveries:

Hong Kong
New Zealand
South Korea

How long does it take for ePacket shipping to arrive in X?
Depending on the destination of the package, customs, holidays, and other delays, shipping times can vary. However, ePacket shipping seems to be a much more consistent option in terms of average shipping times, compared to other economical shipping options out of China and Hong Kong.

On average to the United States, a package can take 10-20 days to arrive from the date of shipment. Other countries may see similar or slightly longer average shipping time. Around half the time is spent reaching the destination, while the other half is spent being routed to the proper facilities before making it to the customer in the destination country.

It’s important to consider that this is pretty fast considering the amount of packages that are processed in bulk every day along the way to the destination, as well as the amount of stops one package goes through.

Fortunately, all of this can be easily monitored thanks to the tracking service included with ePacket deliveries, giving customers peace of mind while their package is trying to reach them.

How do I track an ePacket delivery?
There are a few ways to track your ePacket delivery.

The first is to use one of the official websites, depending on where your shipment is in transit. While the package is still in China, use EMS. When your package is in the USA, use USPS.

Alternatively, you can use third party tracking services if you’re having a difficult time using the official websites:

Package Mapping

If you purchased your product on a website such as AliExpress, viewing the Order Details will usually show you the status of the package.

How do I know if my shipment is an ePacket delivery?
If you’re ordering through AliExpress, look under Orders and click View Detail. When looking under Logistics Information, the shipping method used will be under International Shipping Company. It should have “ePacket” along with the tracking number if the package was indeed shipped using ePacket.

AliExpress order details If you’re not purchasing on AliExpress, you can also determine how the package was shipped by looking at the tracking number. ePacket tracking numbers usually start with “L”. If there is no tracking number, it’s likely the package was not shipped using ePacket.

Will the customer have to pay customs/duties/taxes with ePacket shipping?
ePacket deliveries go through traditional customs clearances which may require customers to pay any applicable duties and taxes on arrival. It’s also best to check with your local laws to see when you would have to pay duties/taxes on imported purchases and for what kinds of items.

You should also ask the merchant shipping the item if there may be any duties or taxes owed on arrival. They might have a lot of experience shipping to your country already and have a better idea of whether or not duties/taxes will be owed on arrival.

What does this ultimately mean for me if I use AliExpress to dropship?
ePacket shipping should be one of the main factors, if not the most important factor when deciding which products to dropship from AliExpress. ePacket shipping allows your customers to receive their purchase in a reasonable timeframe while allowing them to track their order while they wait.

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It’s also the most consistent option for merchants and customers. Other shipping options may not be as reliable, unless you consider more expensive shipping options from China and Hong Kong.

Lastly, ePacket is generally offered as a free or inexpensive shipping option, this allows you as a store owner dropshipping with AliExpress or Oberlo to offer free shipping.

What does this ultimately mean for me as a small business owner?
If you ship locally, your competitive advantage will always be speed of delivery. There are customers who are not willing to wait a few weeks for their delivery to arrive. These are your customers.

Remember that competition is always changing. It’s important to maintain perspective on why customers choose you and figure out what your customers really want. Once you know that, you will be better equipped to serve your customers better than competitors can. 

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20 Highly Effective Ways to Promote a Product

by Casandra Campbell

You’ve found a product and created your online store. Now, what?

Once you’re up and running, it’s time to start driving traffic to your store and closing sales. Whether you’re trying to make your first sale or you’ve been open for business for a while, it’s always good to find more ways to promote your products.

How to Promote a Product: 20 Creative Ideas to Try

If you’re looking for ways to promote a product, read this list to find a tactic you can use in your business. Once you do, click on the link to get step-by-step instructions on how to execute it.

  • Gift Guides
  • Email Marketing
  • Affiliate Programs
  • Land Your Business in the Press
  • Go Live With Periscope
  • Pinterest
  • Pinterest Buyable Pins
  • Facebook Custom Audiences
  • Facebook Shop Section
  • Search Engine Optimization
  • Uncrate
  • Referral Marketing
  • Blogger Outreach
  • Reddit Advertising
  • Pop-up Shops
  • Blogging
  • Instagram
  • YouTube
  • Product Hunt
  • Run a Contest
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5 Common Habits of Unsuccessful People (Are These Holding You Back?)


Just as successful people seem to share common character traits and lifestyle habits, so do unsuccessful people. According to Business Insider, people who struggle to excel in their career and other aspects of life share a few bad habits that may contribute to their lack of success. While even wildly successful people have their faults and no one is perfect, these bad habits may be holding you back. The first step is to recognize your bad habits. Only then can you work toward dropping your old ways and developing the habits that successful people share. If you’re guilty of any of the following bad habits, it may be time to reevaluate your tendencies.

1. Tardiness. Showing up late on a regular basis is not only unprofessional, but it may be linked to a series of other negative characteristics. One study even found that chronic lateness could be linked to certain personality traits like anxiety, low self-control, and a need for thrill-seeking.

2. Conformity. Successful people tend to have little concern for what others think of them. If you want to be successful, blending in will never help you stand out or be recognized for your accomplishments.

3. Procrastination. This one is a bit obvious, but putting off work until the last minute can be detrimental to your career. According to Business Insider, it can cost you time, money, and respect.

4. Lying. When you work hard and follow through on brilliant ideas, there’s no need to lie or cheat to get to the top. Yet this common bad habit is easy to fall back on in a pinch. If you have a tendency to fib, make a point to break this bad habit once and for all.

5. Burning Bridges. Unless you are dealing with a seriously toxic situation, it’s best to not alienate those around you, even if there are disagreements. You never know when you may need to rely on a person in the future.

Make 2018 the year you break up with your bad habits and begin adopting new ones that will better serve you and your career. There are plenty of successful women to look up to. Take a page out of their books and see how far their advice could take you. Head to Business Insider for the full story.

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Writer’s Digest

YES YOU CAN WRITE A BUSINESS PLAN AND I’LL SHOW YOU HOW offers up a concise and well-organized how-to guide on an essential skill for any new or expanding business or enterprise.

Author Aun A. Anderson clearly explains the necessity for having a business plan, how to develop the various aspects of same as well providing easy-to-use worksheets and examples. She defines each aspect of the plan, giving readers a precise idea of what is expected. Basically this book hits the niche on the head.

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What to Read in 2018: 23 Books for Entrepreneurs, Written by Women

Girl holding cup of hot tea and reading in bed. Around her in bad earphones, book, smart phone. Decorative lights in background.

by Dayna Winter

Thankfully, the year-end regret that you binged more Netflix than books is closely followed by another chance to do it right. Another stab at being a better you! Isn’t that what the self-help pundits, fitness gurus and motivational gifs keep telling you? But what does it actually mean?

If I eat one fewer donut today, am I not a better version of me than I was yesterday? Maybe not. But you do need to define “better” for yourself. Does Best You travel more? Does she work out 3 times a week?

Best Me reads more.

I realized halfway through 2017 that I wasn’t, for whatever reason, making time to read—a hobby that I love. I recognized that a shift in my habits would require a more powerful motivation: competition. I dusted off my Goodreads account, and established an aggressive (public) goal for my 2017 Reading Challenge. I fell short by two, but I still read 23 books within the last half of the year. Slow start, strong finish!

I’m not alone. “Read more” tends to rank high on the list of resolutions each year. And, many self-taught entrepreneurs credit books (vs. formal education) with giving them the tools and motivation to get their companies off the ground. If books are on your own list of be-better activities or you want to start a business this year, get serious about reading:

  • Establish clear goals—how many books do you want to read? How will you track your progress? What do you want to learn? Write it all down.
  • Rearrange your life to carve out time. Block your calendar and set reminders.
  • Pick a format that’s most conducive to your lifestyle.
  • Enlist the support of a book club or online community.
  • Compete with yourself. Challenge yourself to up your consumption each month.
  • Download an app like Goodreads to help you create a queue of literary conquests, and track your progress.
    What should you add to that queue?

Books for Entrepreneurs, Written by Women
We’ve published book roundups before. Our last one in 2014 recommended 40 excellent titles for our entrepreneur readers. It was time for a redux, but I was troubled: only 7 books in that previous list were written by women.

Surely, I thought, we could do better.

This time, we bring you a list of 23 books all written by women. They have been read and reviewed by some amazing women here at Shopify, too—UX Researchers, Marketers, and Designers alike weigh in on their picks. But don’t get me wrong. This list isn’t just for women. It’s for entrepreneurs of all ilks, and anyone in pursuit of self-improvement.

Add these 23 women-penned titles to your reading list in 2018 (plus 4 bonus titles from our own to-read lists):

  1. Grit: Passion, Perseverance, and the Science of Success
  2. The Confidence Code: The Science and Art of Self-Assurance—What Women Should Know
  3. Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking
  4. Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear
  5. The Year of Less: How I Stopped Shopping, Gave Away My Belongings, and Discovered Life Is Worth More Than Anything You Can Buy in a Store
  6. The Sleep Revolution
  7. In the Company of Women: Inspiration and Advice from over 100 Makers, Artists, and Entrepreneurs
  8. Take Pride: Why the Deadliest Sin Holds the Secret to Human Success
  9. The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It for Life
  10. Tender at the Bone: Growing Up at the Table
  11. If You Have to Cry, Go Outside: And Other Things Your Mother Never Told You
  12. The 52 Lists Project: A Year of Weekly Journaling Inspiration
  13. Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead
  14. The Art of Asking
  15. You Can Heal Your Life
  16. Bossypants
  17. Unfinished Business
  18. Yes Please
  19. Worry-Free Money: The Guilt-Free Approach to Managing Your Money and Your Life
  20. Worth It: Your Life, Your Money, Your Terms
  21. What the Most Successful People Do on the Weekend: A Short Guide to Making the Most of Your Days Off
  22. You Are a Badass at Making Money: Master the Mindset of Wealth
  23. Female Innovators at Work: Women on Top of Tech 
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5 Secrets to Becoming More Successful, According to ‘Shark Tank’s Daymond John

Damon John

By MIKE AYERS January 22, 2018

In Daymond John’s new book Rise and Grind, the Shark Tank investor lays out a game plan for being more productive in your day-to-day life and career. He mines tips and anecdotes from numerous high-profile people to illustrate his points, too. For example, he details how Catherine Zeta Jones, who John has collaborated with on her home-design line, keeps herself laser-sharp focused. Or how entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk starts his day and how musician Carlos Santana finds balance in his life. Alongside these anecdotes, John weaves in his own personal philosophies on how you can be more productive in your own day-to-day and work life. Here are three of his most important tips.

Find a State of Being
“Your frame of mind can often be ‘I gotta go out there and do it.’ It’s always the numbers, the numbers, the numbers. Before you can even get to that, what are your disciplines that gets you up every day? So it’s a state of being. It’s how you maximize your 24 hours a day that every one of us has. Why would you be more successful if we all have the exact same 24 hours? What are our methods that we’re accomplishing that? That all starts with your mind.”

Go on the Offense, Avoid Defense
“I notice that a lot of people [in the book] who get up in the morning, they won’t touch their emails. They look at all the emails coming in as doing what everybody else wants. That’s their defense. Instead, they won’t answer them or they will put them in different areas. Instead, they will send out stuff — that’s their offense. They just want to send things out.”

Find Alone Time
“People don’t realize, they need time alone. We’re so connected. There’s no place where we can talk to ourselves and find out what we want to do. We get up in the morning and there’s a million emails, the family is running around. You get on your transportation going to work, the world is blowing up. And you get to work, you’re dealing with everybody there and social media. You’re not taking time for yourself at all. What I notice is a lot of people find the time, daily, to [be alone]. You end up being on the hamster wheel when you do that.”

Seek Disconnect
“I also need to look at more places to find disconnect [from technology]. You can never get enough of it. It’s like a team. If a team is playing whatever type of sport and you don’t have time to warm up and you don’t have a half time, when the hell do you have time to go over strategy? You’re just playing all day.”

Live Life Like a Kung Fu Master
“A kung fu master could be the ultimate at 40 years old, and you think he doesn’t need to learn any more moves. But a kung fu master needs to learn a different set of moves at 70, when his muscle retention and reflexes aren’t the same. To still be a master, he has to find other things to do to replace what is gone. And so I think [work] is a constant learning curve.”

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Brian Tracy’s Best Advice for Young People: It’s Never Too Early to Find Your Purpose

by Dave Lavinsky, Guest Writer, Entrepreneur Mag

The average entrepreneur reacts to the term “business plan” with distaste, seeing it as a necessary evil when starting a business or seeking funding.

While the process of documenting your plan might not be enjoyable, the results you can get from it can be, as numerous studies have shown a direct correlation between a written business plan and a company’s success. Equally as important, creating your business plan forces you to build many good habits.

Goal setting
Your business plan forces you to set goals. You need to forecast what your sales will be this quarter, this year and in five years.

Creating goals is the first step to achieving them. And when you create them in your business plan, you are forced to support them. Specifically, you must explain how you will achieve those goals. Who must you hire? What type of marketing promotions must you implement? While you may not ultimately follow all the strategies outlined in your plan, you will assess multiple options and determine the best path to follow.

The biggest fault of most entrepreneurs is that they lack focus. They start down one path, learn of a new idea and then pursue that new path. This is rarely a strategy for success. Rather, it typically results in multiple “partially built bridges.” Importantly, 100 partially built bridges are worth nothing, while one fully built bridge could be all your business needs to be successful.

Your business plan forces you to focus. It does this most specifically in the “Milestones” section. In this section of your plan, you should document what your milestones are by month for the next three months and by quarter for the following four quarters.

Once you have these milestones documented, you’ll gain the habit of judging all new ideas with regards to whether they’ll more effectively allow you to attain your milestones. If they will, then pursue them. If not, table them so they don’t distract you.

Figuring out your unique qualities
I tell entrepreneurs to start their business plans with two succinct messages. The first is a clear definition of your business. That is, what it is that you do. This is important since if readers can’t clearly understand what kind of business you’re in, they’ll stop reading.

The next key message is to explain why you are uniquely qualified to succeed. The answer to this question varies. For instance, maybe your management team has incredible experience. Or you have patented intellectual property. Or you have unique relationships with customers or partners that your competitors don’t. Or market trends have shifted and now require an approach upon which only your company can execute.

If your company is not uniquely qualified to succeed, then at the first sign of your success, you will have lots of competitors and nothing to keep customers from flocking to them. That’s why in creating your business plan it’s not only critical to think about why you are already uniquely qualified to succeed, but what can you do in the future to cement that position. For instance, should you seek patent protection? Would hiring this person allow you to gain an unfair advantage? And so on.

This is an important habit to form. You should always be thinking about why your company is unique and how to make it more unique, particularly if competitors are gaining on you.

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4 Trademark Tips to Protect and Build Your Small Business

By Melissa Thompson
Founder, HarcourtHealth@MelThompson88

When you’re building your brand, there is a lot to consider. Choosing your business name, logo, and brand slogan is a painstaking process. The choices you make today could define your brand for decades, and if all goes well, for centuries. During the process of building my own brand, I sought out the advice of some trademark attorneys, and what they taught me saved me a lot of time, stress, and money.

In the eyes of the public, your trademark is your brand, and it’s important to plan in advance and take steps to protect your intellectual assets.

Here are four tips I’ve used for creating and protecting my trademark that will work for your small business as well.

1. Be original.
If your business’s name is unlike anything else on the market, it will be easier to defend, and also easier for your customers to distinguish. If you name your business, say, Pizza Delivery, every pizza place will have those words on their website.

Joseph Mandour, managing partner and an intellectual property attorney with Mandour & Associates, stresses the importance of choosing a unique trademark. “You want your trademark to be memorable, and from a legal standpoint, distinctive names are ideal,” he says. “Generic and descriptive names, especially in a global market, are more difficult to defend.”

When you register your trademark, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) will reject your application if your name is too similar to a trademark already registered in relation to similar goods or services. Before you finalize your name choice, do a trademark search.

You can use the USPTO Trademark Electronic Search System on your own or hire a trademark attorney or service. I was fortunate in naming my business, because no one else had ever filed or used a similar name. The USPTO database does not include unregistered trademarks, and you could potentially face a challenge from a business that was the first to use the name you choose, even if they have not filed a trademark application.

2. Apply for a trademark.
Once you’ve settled on a name or slogan and verified that there are no conflicts, it’s important to apply for a trademark. Your trademark is industry-specific and only applies to the business you are involved in. You’ll be asked for a list of goods and services you intend to provide under this brand.

3. Respect the mark.
When you have established your trademark, you need to respect it. Renewal fees come due every 10 years and must be paid on time, and there is also a renewal to file after the first five years. Filings with the USPTO are not all there is to protect your trademark. On your website and all marketing materials, include the appropriate trademark symbol for each reference to your trademark. Visible documentation will help you if you are challenged in court.

I have been challenged several times because of certain images I’ve used on my website from stock photo or creative commons sources. I’ve won in every single instance because I always visually document and attribute the proper marks on all images I use.

The terms of use for some websites specifically define how their logo, name, and trademark may be used. For example, Google forbids, in no uncertain terms, using its trademark as a verb. “Use the trademark only as an adjective, never as a noun or verb, and never in the plural or possessive form.” Oops. We have ALL been doing it wrong.

4. Police your trademark.
The protection granted by registering your trademark exists only in the court. There is no trademark police prowling the web looking for violators. It’s up to you to locate violators and take action. As a trademark owner, you have a duty to do so. Use the USPTO database to watch for others applying for trademarks similar to yours. If you find a violation, a cease-and-desist letter from your lawyer may be enough to convince them to choose a different name.

Some companies will choose to fight it out in court. Mandour says most will back down from aggressive actions, though. “We like to litigate fast and aggressively, which often leads to positive outcomes for our clients,” he says.

Protecting your trademark is a big responsibility. While you’re diligently searching out people infringing on your rights, other people will be looking at ways to challenge your claim. A strong, unique name and a thorough search for similar names will help you avoid trouble from the start, but you should always be prepared to fight for your rights.

The opinions expressed here by columnists are their own, not those of




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If You’re Not Serious About a Business Plan, You’re Not Serious About Business

Tallat Mahmood,Guest Writer, Entrepreneur, January 4,2016

The debate around the relevance of business plans is one that continues to divide opinion. Although conventional wisdom suggests a business plan has a role to play in determining company success, increasingly, and especially in the startup world, some are shunning it.

However, business plans are an essential component of business success, especially when you consider that many businesses fail. A good business plan is where an entrepreneur interprets results from tests on his or her business idea or business so that they present a strategy that has the best chance of success. This validation is one of the key differences between a powerful business plan and a document that is irrelevant.

If you want your business to succeed, whether it is to attract customers, raise funding, or hire the right team, you need to get serious about implementing a strong business plan.

Why a strong business plan Is still relevant
Beyond the business plan acting as an instrument that banks and investors use to make funding decisions, it also serves a number of other key purposes. Primarily it allows you to think through your business and proposed strategy in a way that talking about it never can. The only real way a business plan can be put together is by testing assumptions and interpreting the results. There is no escaping the fact that the business plan will always remain inaccurate to some degree given you are trying to predict the future. However, the margin of error will be smaller, the higher quality the business plan is. Validation leads to quality.

Who your exact customers are, what they want from your product or service, how much they are willing to pay and what the competition is doing are questions you cannot answer by sitting behind a computer. Face-to-face interactions with potential customers, suppliers and competitors are what will confirm or dispel initial assumptions. Even if your initial assumptions are correct, talking to your customers will inform you immensely, and the value it will bring to your business will be immeasurable.

This is exactly what the founders of Airbnb did to create their home-share platform. The assumptions you test can be fed through the entire business plan, including the financials, to develop a plan that has real context layered in.

Related: 4 Reasons Why a Traditional 40-Page Business Plan Is an Insane Waste of Time

How to get serious about your business plan
To prevent your business plan being full of untested assumptions that render the business plan irrelevant, focusing on validation, as discussed above, is the best way to show intent. Given much of that validation will come from face-to-face meetings, there are a number of tools you will already be familiar with in order to “find” your customers and competitors to validate. Using Twitter search, Facebook and LinkedIn Groups, are a great way to seek out people you want to talk to.

Beyond this, all niches have leading publications focused on serving their community. For example, if your target market was coffee lovers, sites such as Coffee Lovers Mag would be a great place to start to find your audience.

Once you find them, the right questions to ask to get the right information and inform your businessshould focus on understanding what the main pain point is for customers and to identify how you could provide a solution. So listen to what they say and probe further to get to the root cause of their problem. Then develop a solution and iterate with the customer until you get it right. This structures your “market research” to get information in the right way and analyze and interpret in a meaningful manner. This information can then be populated in the qualitative and quantitative parts of your business plan.

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Alibaba’s Singles’ Day Sales Smash Record With $25 Billion Haul


(SHANGHAI) – Alibaba, the Chinese e-commerce giant, said on Saturday its Singles’ Day sales extravaganza hit $25.4 billion, smashing its own record from last year and cementing it as the world’s biggest shopping event.

Once a celebration for China’s lonely hearts, Singles’ Day has become an annual 24-hour buying frenzy that exceeds the combined sales for Black Friday and Cyber Monday in the United States, and acts as a barometer for China’s consumers.

As tills shut midnight on Saturday, Alibaba’s live sales ticker registered 168.3 billion yuan, up 39 percent from 120.7 billion yuan last year. The dollar figure was up more steeply due to the strength of the yuan against the greenback this year.

The event began soon after a star-studded event in Shanghai late on Friday. As midnight hit, a deluge of pre-orders helped drive a billion dollars of sales on Alibaba’s platforms in the first two minutes and $10 billion in just over an hour.


“In terms of scale it just dwarfs any other event out there,” said Ben Cavender, Shanghai-based principal at China Market Research Group.

At just past the halfway mark, the headline gross merchandise volume swept past last year’s dollar total just shy of $18 billion. Shortly afterwards, sales surpassed the 2016 total in the local currency.

The event gets shoppers around China scouting for bargains and loading up their online shopping carts, while delivery men – and robots – brace for an estimated 1.5 billion parcels expected over the next six days.

“This is a big event for China, for the Chinese economy,” Joseph Tsai, Alibaba’s co-founder and vice chairman, said. “On Singles’ Day, shopping is a sport, it’s entertainment.”

Tsai said rising disposable incomes of China’s “over 300 million middle-class consumers” was helping drive the company’s online sales – and would continue. “This powerful group is propelling the consumption of China,” he said.


The final total – more than the GDP of Iceland or Cameroon – leaves other shopping days in the shade. Cyber Monday in the United States saw $3.45 billion in online sales last year.

Investors closely watch the headline number, though some analysts say the way it is calculated is too opaque. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission launched a probe into Alibaba’s accounting practices in 2016, including into its Singles’ Day data. That investigation is as yet unresolved.

Last year, the sales number rose by nearly a third at the eighth iteration of the event – though that was slower than the 60 percent increase logged in 2015.


At Alibaba’s Friday night gala, the company’s co-founder and chairman, Jack Ma, hosted guests including the actress Nicole Kidman, singer Pharrell Williams and Chinese musicians and film stars such as Zhang Ziyi and Fan Bingbing.


The excitement around the shopping blitz, however, masks the challenges facing China’s online retailers such as Alibaba and Inc, which are having to spend more to compete for shoppers in a broader economy where growth is slowing.

“A lot of the lower hanging fruit has been picked and there’s increased competition for a share of consumer spending,” said Matthew Crabbe, Asia Pacific research director at Mintel. The sale did though beat his forecast of 20 percent growth.

Online retailers were being forced to push offline as well as overseas to attract new shoppers, and the overall online retail market was close to “saturation”, raising questions about whether current rapid growth could be sustained.

“They’re having to spill over out of the purely online realm into the wider consumer market,” Crabbe said.


This has sparked deals to buy bricks-and-mortar stores in China, and overseas tie-ups especially in Southeast Asia. Technology, too, has been key, with virtual reality dressing rooms and live fashion shows to attract shoppers.

Alibaba also said it had turned 100,000 physical shops around China into “smart stores” for this year’s event. Goods perused by people at the stores, but then bought and paid for on Alibaba’s platforms, were added towards the sales total.

China Market Research Group’s Cavender said brands were also increasingly making smaller price cuts to avoid “margins getting killed”, and were often asking for deposits in advance. In previous years, prices were often halved.

Fu Wenyue, a 23-year-old dresser in Shanghai, said offers this year were smaller but more “personalized” as brands used big data to hone their targets. Fu spent 4,000 yuan on clothes, cosmetics and kitchen utensils in pre-event sales, and kept shopping on the day.

“In actual fact, I think I spent even more than I did last year,” she said.