…and 200 airplanes!

SF Airlines is just one of the carriers scrambling for more capacity to support China's booming e-commerce market. This is SF's most recent addition, a 757-200PCF fresh out of the paintshop after conversion by Precision Aircraft Solutions.

SF Airlines is just one of the carriers scrambling for more capacity to support China’s booming e-commerce market. This is SF’s most recent addition, a 757-200PCF fresh out of the paintshop after conversion by Precision Aircraft Solutions.

11 11 2015. That is eight numbers, representing a day last week.

Here’s another number: 14,300,000,000. That’s US dollars. $14.3 billion US dollars.

Put it all together, and what you have is that on this year’s Singles Day in China, the eleventh of November 2015, e-commerce giant Alibaba logged $14.3 billion in sales on its websites worldwide.

Would you like some more numbers?

  • It took just eight minutes for shoppers to spend the first $1 billion — which averages out to a rate of $125 million per minute.
  • Alibaba’s 2015 Singles Day sales total was up 54% from the $9.3 million  recorded last year.
  • The total value of retail sales in China was up 11% y-o-y in October to US$455 billion. Online sales jumped 35%.

But enough numbers. However many millions of individual items that $14.3 billion purchased, they all had to shipped. Baby products, Nike sneakers,  jeans, electronic gadgets, vitamin supplements… all had to be boxed up and handed off to a delivery company. Some moved locally by van or bicycle. Some moved regionally by truck. But Alibaba’s Singles Day customers are no longer just Chinese — estimates vary, but it appears that over $1 billion of Singles Day sales came from the US — and a significant percentage of deliveries involved air.

Prior to Singles Day, Alibaba estimated that 1.7 million delivery personnel, 400,000 road vehicles and 200 airplanes would be deployed to handle the packages of running shoes and diapers, but given the huge increase in sales over last year, we expect that estimate was low.

No wonder SF Express, YTO Express, China Postal Airlines, and the new United Star Express joint venture are scrambling to add as many freighters as they can, as fast as they can.

Is it all about numbers, though? Not according to Alibaba founder and Chairman Jack Ma…

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