Alibaba claims to have achieved Gross Merchandise Volume (GMV) for Single’s Day 2022 that is comparable to 2021 “despite economic and COVID-related headwinds”. Last year, Alibaba said it generated gross merchandise value (GMV) of RMB540bn ($84.5bn).
Popular categories during last year’s Single’s Day event, such as consumer electronics, also saw robust growth this year, as well as up-and-coming categories such as products for pets and outdoor sports. In terms of logistics, Cainiao claims to have delivered “more than 200 million packages to consumers’ doorsteps for this 11.11” and for orders generated in the first sales window of 11.11, it has shortened the time between payment and fulfillment “by over 3 hours compared to last year.”
However, Alibaba’s plateau in sales is not only attributable to COVID-related or economic crises. Other major e-commerce platforms such as JD.com and Pinduoduo also jumped on the 11.11 bandwagon and managed to plug into some of the consumer spending readiness originally started by Alibaba in this period of the year. In fact, JD.com reported that its “growth rate exceeded the industry average”. Overall, the total sales on the three biggest Chinese e-commerce platforms during the 11.11 festival were RMB934bn ($132bn), a year-on-year increase of 2.9%, and Tmall ranked first in sales, followed by JD.com and Pinduoduo.
Black Friday & Cyber Monday
Adobe Analytics released its report regarding the US Black Friday and Cyber Monday online sales, and they look positive. The two shopping holidays and promotions around them were estimated at over $20bn: $9.1bn for Black Friday and $11.3bn for Cyber Monday. In its report, Adobe Analytics provide additional data regarding the orders themselves, such as shipping method (expedited vs. standard vs. BOPIS) and average items per order. There is an average of over two items per order since Adobe started collecting this data in early October 2022. Orders made on desktop had more items on average than those made on mobile or tablet, which indicates that mobile sales were impulse purchases.
While no hard data is available from the UK yet, initial reports by Barclaycard Payments (which processes nearly £1 in every £3 spent on credit and debit cards in the UK) show that volume of Black Friday payment transactions was up 3.2% compared to 2021.
Meanwhile, a single e-commerce platform, Shopify announced that it had a record-setting Black Friday Cyber Monday weekend, with sales of $7.5bn from their active sellers worldwide. That’s a 19% increase in sales from the $6.3bn during Shopify’s Black Friday & Cyber Monday weekend in 2021. Key highlights for Shopify merchants were:
- The US, UK and Canada were among the top-selling countries worldwide
- Cross-border orders represented 15% of all global orders and the most popular cross-border routes included Canada-US, US-Canada, and UK-US
- Top product categories were apparel & accessories, followed by health & beauty, and home & garden
How are operators preparing?
In France, La Poste is recruiting 3,000 seasonal workers throughout the country in the areas of delivery and parcel sorting to cope with the peak of activity in the holiday season. The 3,000 seasonal positions will include both fixed-term and temporary contracts for the period from November to December.
In Germany, Deutsche Post DHL plans to hire more than 10,000 temporary workers as it expects parcel volumes to increase by 70% during the busy festive period in November and December, with up to 11 million shipments on peak days. Moreover, 4,000 delivery vehicles will be deployed, most of them with electric drives, which are rented by Deutsche Post in addition to the existing fleet.
In the Netherlands, postal operator PostNL is preparing to handle around two million parcels per day during the peak season. Around 1,250 trucks (up from 950 on an average day) will make around 6,000 journeys (up from 4,500) per day to ensure parcels are delivered on time. These journeys will be made by more than 1,950 parcel deliverers employed by PostNL and 480 delivery partner personnel. Sunday deliveries will also be introduced after Black Friday, and the company will utilise its 28 sorting centre locations, 3,800 PostNL points and 500 parcel and letter machines to deliver during peak.
PostNord’s (Denmark and Sweden) package of extra holiday measures includes investments in increased opening hours for customer service centres, Saturday deliveries in large parts of the country, Sunday sorting of packages, temporary Christmas agents and 1,000 more service points than last year.
Norwegian postal operator Posten has brought on board an extra 800 employees to handle peak this year. It has also rolled out 540 new electric vehicles, with a further 50 due to be introduced before Christmas peak. Self-service parcel boxes have also been placed at 1,500 locations in Norway, where customers can pick up parcels 24/7. Posten has around 3,200 serviced and self-service delivery points for parcels in Norway.
Australia Post, which expects moderate growth of 3% YoY in the five weeks leading up to Christmas, has increased capacity, recruited more staff, and added more planes to cope with the expected parcel volumes. The Australian postal operator has now started Saturday deliveries in all metro capitals and some regional cities and towns.
In New Zealand, where e-commerce sales dipped by 14% last quarter, NZ Post expects to deliver around 15m items in the lead up to Christmas, starting with Black Friday. It expects to see parcel volumes increasing 50% on average over the next four weeks and has brought in hundreds more people to work across the business.
In Germany, B2C specialist Hermes is hiring 3,000 temporary workers and adding 3,000 additional vehicles to handle this year’s peak volumes, which are expected to take off over the Black Friday and Cyber Monday period.
In 2022, just in its US operations network, Amazon is hiring 150,000 employees in full-time, seasonal, and part-time roles.
Sources: https://www.cep-research.com/news/european-parcel-carriers-gear-up-for-busy-but-unpredictable-holiday-season; https://www.aboutamazon.com/news/operations/amazons-plan-to-serve-customers-this-holiday-season-includes-alternate-delivery-methods-and-easy-returns; carrier press releases