Taobao

The FT’s Ben Marino travels to Hebei province to visit a rural community that is opening online shops selling Inner Mongolian cashmere to fashion-conscious internet shoppers across China.

The once-a-year Singles Day in China is becoming a big event for both online shoppers and retailers, with some of the bigger sites such as those run by Alibaba offering 50 per cent off and seeing growth in sales explode.

The alternative to Valentine’s Day, which was started among Chinese college students and held on November 11 (as a numerical pun of four single digits) has now become mainstream – and very big. It is also causing something of a challenge for couriers and delivery companies in the mad rush.