Word-of-Mouth and Referral Marketing Blog

The Biggest Holiday eCommerce Sales Ever: Black Friday / Cyber Monday / Single’s Day

The ecommerce holiday shopping season is here! This year is set to be the biggest ever for Amazon’s Black Friday sales, as well as Alibaba’s Single’s Day sales.

You might be wondering why the Christmas decorations and holiday sales banner ads keep going up earlier every year.

There’s a reason for this.

Across America, Europe and most countries, consumers are eagerly awaiting the attractive deals on offer for Black Friday and Cyber Monday. And across Asia and in China, savvy consumers are getting ready for Single’s Day Sales. And these are just the big ones – there’s still 10/10 and 12/12 Sales (in Asia), Free Shipping Day, and of course Christmas Eve.

See if you can spot the trend in this graph below of eCommerce spending in the US by quarters:

holiday ecommerce sales - q4 spikes statista

Q4 eCommerce spending has spiked higher and higher each year. Via Statista.

Shrewd retailers know better than to compete against the might of Amazon and Alibaba. Instead of trying to go head-on, they’re starting their sales early and getting the marketing out there to lure consumers into early purchases.

If you run an eCommerce store – you should get ready. You can use Shopify’s list of Apps to help you sell more for Black Friday/Cyber Monday, or WooCommerce’s prep guide for Holiday Traffic, or ReferralCandy’s guide to writing product descriptions that sell.

Still not convinced? Let’s examine just how big the sales were in previous years, and what you can do about it

How Big was Amazon’s Black Friday 2017 Sales?

What were Amazon’s 2018 Prime Day Sales Results?

holiday ecommerce sales - black friday for amazon statista

Via Statista: Prime Day is a big win for Amazon.

  • Notably, Prime Day was stretched to 36 hours this year (up from 30 hours in 2017 and the more regular 24 hours in 2016).
  • Small and medium businesses (SMBs) achieved over $1 billion in sales on Prime Day. Sales for marketplace merchants were 59% higher compared to the week before, and 24% higher than retail
  • More than half of buyers on Prime Day 2018 were first-time shoppers
  • According to Amazon, it added more sign-ups for Prime membership during Prime Day 2018 than any previous single day in the company’s history. According to Statista, desktop conversion rate was 11.4% on Prime Day 2018, compared to an average of 8.3% for Q1 2018. Hitwise estimates Amazon gains 200,000 new Prime Members per month.
  • Amazon rolled out a week of deals for Whole Foods for Prime Day 2018 to celebrate their acquisition of the grocery chain, including 10% off for Prime members. AmazonFresh offers grocery delivery and pick-up in certain cities – but only as an add-on to Prime Membership.
  • Amazon Prime Day used to be a major event for the US – but International Sales are quickly gaining pace. Amazon added 4 more countries this year, bringing the total to 17. International sales reached approximately 37% in 2018, or US$1.54 billion.

holiday ecommerce sales - prime day international sales

Growing larger every year. Via DigitalCommerce 360

“As a result of Amazon’s holiday increasing in popularity, numerous retailers offered deals on their own sites to combat Amazon, turning mid-July into a mini holiday shopping season. People love to comparison shop, with many turning to Amazon’s competitors to compare deals and prices. Prime Day has turned into a huge opportunity for all online retailers,”


said Taylor Schreiner, director of Adobe Digital Insights.

How Big was Alibaba’s Single Day Sales?

  1. Alibaba’s 2017 Single Day sales hit US$25.4 billion for the 24-hour event. Sales reached a billion dollars in the first 2 minutes and $10 billion in just over an hour. For comparison, Prime Day 2018 was about US$3.5 bn.
  2. 60,000 International Brands participated this year, more than 5x, compared to 11,000 in 2016. Some of the international brands making a splash include L’Oreal, Michael Kors, and Nike.
  3. This number was already a 39% growth from the previous year’s sales figure – it passed it at 1.09 PM local time, just 13 hours after it began.
  4. Alibaba-Tmall’s Single Day sales promotion started a month before, with fashion shows and promotional events counting down to the big day.
  5. Prime Day is a day of online sales. In comparison, Single’s Day is a full fledged entertainment extravaganza featuring Nicole Kidman, the Blue Man Group, Maria Sharapova and Pharrell. Previous years featured David Beckham, Daniel Craig and Kobe Bryant.
  6. According to the Chinese State Post Bureau, over 1 billion packages were delivered between Nov 11 and Nov 16 as a result of Single’s Day.
  7. It’s not all from China either. According to Statista, Alibaba’s international revenue grew by 56% for the fiscal year 2018 (ending March 31), reaching approximately US$3 million.

holiday ecommerce sales - alibaba internatioanl ecommerce sales

International Commerce lagging, but growing Via Statista.

Darren Foong

Darren works on Growth at ReferralCandy. He spends too much time reading fiction, performing improv, and doing things that don't scale. One day he hopes to be quite interesting.