May 19, 2020

Alibaba’s global sale sells a record $1 billion in first five minutes

Single's Day sale
kevin valerio
2 min
Alibaba’s global sale sells a record $1 billion in first five minutes

The Singles’ Day sale, which began at midnight Beijing time on Friday, reached a record-breaking 175,000 orders per second in the first hour and sold $1 billion in the first five minutes alone.

The company has hosted a Single’s Day sale on November 11 for the past seven years. Last year, total sales reached $14.4 billion but this year it’s estimated the company could sell as much as $20 billion worth of goods. That’s a 40% increase on 2015, according to New York-based research firm Fung Global Retail & Technology.

The sale is aimed at consumers in China and Asia with 100,000 brands on sale. 11,000 of those are from outside China, demonstrating a fantastic opportunity for retailers to reach this market.

A number of US brands are targetting Chinese customers through Alibaba and the top sellers this year include the iPhone 7, Beats headphones and Dyson products.

Another US addition to Alibaba’s Tmall is Smuckers. The brand began selling jam, peanut butter, nuts and coffee on the business-to-consumer site at the end of last year. 

The 119-year-old brand is reaching Chinese customers with a push on homebaking - something that's gaining popularity among young Chinese families - but also through the publishing of meat and fish recipes with accompanying sauces using its products, a very different marketing style to the PB&J adverts seen in the US.

Virtual shopping

Alibaba is giving shoppers the chance to take 360-degree tours around foreign shops such as Macy’s, Costco and Target. This is done using either a VR headset or customers can buy a cheap cardboard frame that they can slot their smart phones into. Using a headset allows them to look around the store, virtually pick up items and even make purchases.

This is one of the new tactics designed to boost sales by giving customers a more immersive experience. Alibaba is one of the first to do this in a big way, putting it one step ahead of the big retailers it wants to keep in its eco-system.

Bigger than black Friday and cyber Monday combined

Unlike most other shopping events, the Single’s Day sale begins with a live televised four-hour long, star-studded show to count down to the start of the sale. This year included stars such as basketball player Kobe Bryant and pop band One Direction.

This generates huge excitement over the sale, making it into an event for everyone – not just singles. 

Image: Getty/wonry

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Jun 8, 2021

Six issues at the top of tax and finance leaders’ agenda

Kate Birch
4 min
As businesses accelerate their transformation journeys, tax leaders are under increasing pressure to add strategic value. Deloitte reveals six tax trends

New Deloitte research reveals that tax leaders are under increasing pressure to add strategic value as companies accelerate business model transformation, from undergoing digital transformations to rethinking their supply chains or investing in green initiatives.

According to Phil Mills, Deloitte Global Tax & Legal Leader, to “truly deliver value to the business, the tax function needs to rethink its resourcing model and transform its technology infrastructure to create capacity and control costs”.

And the good news, according to Mills, is that tax and business leaders have more options at their disposal to achieve this.

Reflecting the insights of global tax and finance executives at global companies, Deloitte’s Tax Operations in Focus study reveals the six issues at the top of tax and finance leaders’ agenda.

Trend 1: Businesses seek more strategic counsel from tax

Companies are being pushed to develop new digital products and distribution channels and accelerate sustainable transformation and this is taking them into uncharted tax territory. Tax leaders say their teams must have the resources and skills to give deeper advisory support on digital business models (65%), supply chain restructuring (49%) and sustainability (48%) over the next two years. This means redrawing the boundaries of what tax professionals focus on, and accelerating adoption of advanced technologies and lower-cost resourcing models to meet compliance requirements and free up time.

According to Joanne Walker, Group Tax Director, BT Group PLC, "There’s still a heavy compliance load today, but the vision for the future would be that much of that falls away, and tax people become subject matter experts who help program the machine, ensure quality control, and redirect their time to advisory activity.”

Trend 2: Tipping point for resourcing models

Business partnering demands in the tax department are on the rise, but 93% of tax leaders say their department’s budget is remaining flat or falling. To ensure that the tax function can redefine itself as a strategic function at the pace that is required, leaders are choosing to move increasing amounts of compliance and reporting to a combination of shared service centers, finance departments, and outsourcing providers that have invested in best-in-class technology.

Trend 3: Digital tax administration is moving faster than expected

in addition to the rising focus of the corporate tax department partnering with their business counterparts, transformative changes to the way companies share tax information with revenue authorities is also creating an imperative to modernize operations at a faster pace. Nine in 10 (92%) respondents say that shifting revenue authority demands on digital tax administration will have a moderate or high impact on tax operations and resources over the next five years—and several heads of tax said the trend is moving faster than expected.

"It’s really stepped up in the last couple of years," says Anna Elphick, VP Tax, Unilever. "Tax authorities don't just want a faster turnaround for compliance but access into a company’s systems. It's not unreasonable to think that in a much shorter time than we expect, compliance will be about companies reviewing a return that's been drafted by the tax authorities."

Trend 4: Data simplification and lower-cost resourcing are top priorities

Tax leaders said that simplifying data management (53%) and moving to lower-cost resourcing models (51%) must be prioritized if tax is to become more proactive at delivering strategic insights to the business. Many tax teams are ensuring that they have a seat at the table as ERP systems are overhauled, which is paying dividends: 56% of those that have introduced NextGen ERP systems are now highly effective at supporting the business with scenario-modeling insights. Only 35% of those with moderate to low use of NextGen ERP systems said the same.

At Stryker, “we automated the source P&L process for transfer pricing which took a huge burden off of the divisions," says David Furgason, Vice President Tax. "Then we created a transfer price database to deposit and retrieve data so we have limited impact on the divisions. We are moving to a single ERP platform which will help us make take the next step with robotics.”

Trend 5: Skillsets are shifting

Embedding a new data infrastructure and redesigning processes are critical for the future tax vision. Tax leaders are aligned — data skills (45%) and technology process experience (43%) are ‘must have’ skills in a tax department of the future, but more traditional tax specialist knowledge also remains key (40%). The trick to success will be in tax leaders facilitating the way these professionals, with their different backgrounds, can work together collectively to unlock lasting value.

Take Infineon Technologies, which formed a VAT technology and governance group "that has the right knowledge about how to change the system to ensure it generates the right reports", according to Matthias Schubert, Global Head of Tax. "Involving them early was key as we took a greenfield approach, so we could think about what the optimal processes would look like and how more intelligent systems could make an impact 

Trend 6: 2020 brought productivity improvements

Improved productivity (50%) and accelerating shifts to remote working (48%) were cited as the biggest operational benefits to emerge from COVID-19-driven disruption. But, as 78% of leaders now plan to embed either hybrid or fully remote models in the tax function long term, 34% say maintaining productivity benefits is a top concern. And, as leaders think about building their talent pipeline and strengthening advisory skill sets, 47% say they must prioritize new approaches to talent recognition and career development over the next two years, while 36% say new processes for involving tax in business strategy decisions must be established.

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