China’s e-commerce market is widely known to be far bigger than India’s, but the magnitude of the gulf is truly breathtaking.
Alibaba, China biggest e-commerce company, has just sold more goods in 76 minutes than Amazon and Flipkart together had sold in all of 2017. One hour and 16 minutes into Alibaba’s Singles Day sale, the company said that it had sold goods with GMV (Gross Merchandise Value) of 91.2 billion RMB, or $13.1 billion. Through all of 2017, Flipkart and Myntra had together sold goods worth $7.5 billion, and Amazon India had made sales of $5 billion. The sum of their sales of $12.5 billion was eclipsed by Alibaba in little over an hour.
At 1 hour, 16 minutes and 37 seconds, 2018 11.11 GMV surpasses that of 2015. pic.twitter.com/dKzZiAMtLm
— Alibaba Group (@AlibabaGroup) November 10, 2018
Singles Day is Alibaba’s flagship sale, and the highlight of China’s shopping calendar. Originally celebrated on 11th November by singles who wanted their own holiday to compete with Valentine’s Day (11/11 looks like a group of single people), it was popularized by Alibaba as a shopping festival in 2009. The event has since come to symbolize China’s e-commerce revolution, and Alibaba pulls out all stops during promotions. International celebrities fly over to China to promote the event — this year singer Mariah Carey promoted the sale. In the past, celebrities including Maria Sharapova, David Beckham, Scarlett Johannsen and Kobe Bryant have all flown in to China to ring off the sale.
And if Alibaba’s gap over its Indian peers seems large now, it only seems to be widening with time. In 2016, Alibaba had taken an hour to make $5 billion of sales, and take it past the then-GMV of Flipkart at $4.5 billion. In 2017, Alibaba took half an hour to sell $7 billion of goods, which was more than the 2017 GMV of Flipkart at $6 billion. And this year, Alibaba only needed 35 minutes to make $8.2 billion of sales, to comfortably go past Flipkart’s GMV of $7.5 billion.
These are stunning numbers, and show how much ground Indian companies have to cover before they can compete with their Chinese counterparts. But these numbers also show how much Indian headroom Indian companies have to grow — India’s GDP per capita is $1983, while China’s is more than four times higher at $8,643. When India’s economy grows to become as large as the Chinese economy is now, it’s conceivable that it will give opportunities to Indian e-commerce companies to match the numbers that Alibaba is racking up at the moment. It’s too early to say if any of today’s e-commerce companies will end up being India’s Alibaba, but for now, Alibaba is showing the world the potential that the e-commerce space has to offer.