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Alibaba off to blistering start on Singles Day

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Chinese shoppers were so eager to participate in Singles Day that they purchased more in the first hour than the entire 24-hour event in 2013.

More than $7 billion of gross merchandise volume (GMV) was settled through Alipay on Alibaba’s China and international retail marketplaces within the first two hours on what has become the world’s biggest online shopping event, which kicked off at 12 a.m. in China, on Nov. 10.

In the first hour alone, volume reached a record-breaking peak of 175,000 orders in one second, compared with 140,000 last year, Alibaba said. More than 100,000 merchants, including 11,000 international merchants, are participating.

“This unprecedented level of engagement demonstrates both the consumption power of Chinese consumers and their embrace of online shopping as a lifestyle,” said Daniel Zhang, CEO of Alibaba Group.

American retailers, including Neiman Marcus and brands such as Lancome, Gilt, Rue La La, as well as 200 other companies used dealmoon.com to launch holiday spending offers among Chinese Americans shopping during the festival.

The online aggregator of luxury brands and deals introduced the power of the shopping event to U.S. luxury retailers in 2013. Besides crushing 2015’s Cyber Monday's sales of $3.07 billion by 350% ($14.3 billion) this year, the year-over-year growth of Singles' Day provides U.S. retailers with a reason to jump-start their holiday shopping season and bolster their fourth quarter sales, according to a company statement by Dealmoon.com.

Last year, many luxury retailers earned over $1 million in 48 hours alone, by making offers to the six million Chinese Americans who wait for great deals on Singles' Day. And it looked forward to similar results this year.

Like Alibaba, Dealmoon’s site began featuring exclusive offers from American merchants at midnight on Nov. 10. Millions of high end products were offered from 25% to 80% off, and many retailers offered 50% off site-wide, the statement said.

"This is the fourth year we have hosted a Singles' Day online sales event for American retailers, and we are seeing the best offers ever," said Jennifer Wang, CMO and co-founder of Dealmoon.com. "If there is one day for someone to find incredible deals on their favorite luxury skincare brands from Lancome Genefique to La Prairie Caviar Eye Cream, or fashion products like Ferragamo shoes to Fendi handbags, this is the day.”

Among the site’s six million shoppers, luxury brands have sold more than $1 billion of product since Dealmoon's inception in 2009, the statement added.

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Online fashion retailer files Chapter 11

BY Marianne Wilson

Competition is fierce in the apparel business — even for online players with a devoted following.

Los Angeles-based women’s apparel retailer Nasty Gal has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

Sophia Amoruso founded the company as a store selling vintage fashions on eBay in 2006, and eventually transformed it into a popular online destination for young women in search of the latest edgy fashions. The company opened its first physical store in 2014, and another in 2015, both in the Los Angeles area.

The filing comes after a rough couple of years for the retailer as it struggled with flat sales amid an increasingly competitive market. It cut 10% of its staff last year. Amoruso stepped down as CEO in 2015, handing the reins to president Sheree Waterson, a veteran retailer who came from Lululemon. Although Amoruso has remained involved with the company as executive chairman, there are reports she plans to step down from the post. She is the author of two books, including the best-selling #Girlboss,

Nasty Gal said it has been exploring strategic partnerships with other brands and expects to attract a new equity partner or sponsor to help move it forward

"Our decision to initiate a court-supervised restructuring will enable us to address our immediate liquidity issues, restructure our balance sheet and correct structural issues including reducing our high occupancy costs and restoring compliance with our debt covenants," said Sheree Waterson, CEO Nasty Gal. "We expect to maintain our high level of customer service and emerge stronger and even better able to deliver the product and experience that our customers expect and that we take pride in bringing to market."

Nasty Gal estimated both its assets and its liabilities at between $10 million and $50 million in its filing with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Central District of California.

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Report: Almost two-thirds of shoppers plan to skip Cyber Monday

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

While a majority of shoppers are ready to shop online this holiday season, many will sit out Cyber Monday this year.

This detail was highlighted in “Computop 2016 Holiday Shopping Study.” Computop’s report, which is based on responses from over 1,900 consumers across the United States and UK, found that 76% planned to shop online this holiday season. However, 62% of those respondents don’t plan to shop on Cyber Monday, noting it doesn’t offer the deals it used to previously.

Overall, 55% of respondents said that they plan to spend the same amount online as last year, with 19% planning to spend more. With regards to Cyber Monday, there is an even split among U.S. shoppers, with 50% planning to shop online, and 50% saying they won’t. The difference was much greater in the U.K., with 77% of respondents saying they won’t shop online on Cyber Monday, the report said.

Shoppers are also less interested in buying from online retailers outside of their own country this holiday season. Fifty percent (50%) of respondents were not interested, claiming they have enough options domestically, and an additional 22% noted that they were concerned about the security of their payment data beyond their borders, the study said.

When examining security issues specifically, 74% of respondents overall agreed they are concerned about security when disclosing their credit card and bank information online, and 45% percent strongly agree with these concerns. To further ensure their protection online, 71% of consumers confirmed that they check if the site has certificates like eTrust and SSL Certificate from Verisign, with 42% strongly agreeing that they do this. In addition, 61% of shoppers confirmed that they have checked the liability policy of their preferred payment method provider or bank in the case of fraud, the report said.

To ward off security concerns, shoppers are opting for more security authentication features. Within the next 12 months for example, 35% said they would set up fingerprint identification; 12% would select retina scans; 7% chose voice recognition, and 2% noted “pay-by-selfie.” However, a whopping 41% of total respondents said they wouldn’t choose any of the above, the study said.

“It’s not surprising to see the online shopping trend expected to continue this holiday season. What was particularly interesting is that despite the sustained interest in purchasing online, consumers continue to have sig-nificant concerns about the security of their personal information,” said Ralf Gladis, CEO of Computop.

“However, they are not necessarily interested in taking extra steps to pro-tect themselves,” Gladis said. “Before moving forward with features like these, it’s critical as an industry that we are able to ensure this data is stored securely before we potentially open up a possible new area for identify theft.”

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