Chinese Gov’t Warns Online Marketplaces Ahead of Singles Day

In 2014, China Singles Day surpassed Black Friday as the largest shopping day of the year. Overall totals for the day are hard to come by, but Alibaba alone reported $14 billion in sales last year compared to $5.8 billion generated in the U.S. on Black Friday and Cyber Monday combined. Tomorrow, online sales in China (including international shoppers making cross-border purchases on Chinese Websites) are expected to grow to as much as $21 billion, according to various estimates. This year, China’s biggest online marketplaces have been warned ahead of the Alibaba-created online shopping holiday to police their sellers to prevent counterfeit merchandise.

Product quality and authenticity have been a problem for Chinese e-commerce since its beginnings in the country. Alibaba, in fact, started as an escrow service that held funds during an online transaction until the buyer and seller were both satisfied. This week, in a statement on its Website, China’s State Administration for Industry and Commerce said it met with Alibaba, Amazon.com, Baidu, JD.com, Tencent Holdings and other online marketplaces and retailers to warn them they would be checking for fake products, falsified sales figures and other fraudulent practices.

“The SAIC will strengthen market supervision … monitor and manage online marketplaces according to law,” the statement said, “and together with the majority of industry players jointly create an online market environment of fair competition and an environment for online consumption that is safe and secure.”