For everyone else in the world, November 11 is just a normal day. In China, it has become the biggest online shopping day of the year. In fact, Singles Day 2014 blew Cyber Monday and Black Friday out of the water. Last year, consumers spent US$5.7 billion on Alibaba?s shopping platforms, and another US$1.6 billion on Jingdong, all in just 24 hours.
If you ask any single Chinese person over the age of 23 what the first thing is on their wish list, they’ll you that it is to settle down. Strangely before 23, our parents are strongly against us having relationships, but as soon as we finish college, our parents are anxious for us to settle down. I was able to escape the madness when I was 23 by leaving China and going to Ireland. Phew… But my mom still nags even though we’re thousands of miles away.
Where did “Double Eleven Singles Day” come from?
The number 1 looks like a stick, and in China, single people are called sticks. That is why “11.11” best represents single people in China and that’s why November 11 is called Singles Day. Due to a large number of single people in China, November 11 has been an excuse for single, young people to break free of the loneliness of single life and get together to have dinner or karaoke. It can also be an awkward day for single people who are forced to go on arranged blind dates.
Alibaba saw it was a popular holiday and launched its first Singles Day online sale in 2009 and trademarked “Double Eleven” in 2012. It has completely changed the tradition of Singles Day activities. This new holiday is now an opportunity for single people to treat themselves to online shopping.
Why Chinese people spend more money online shopping on Singles Day
Singles Day is very similar to Black Friday or Cyber Monday in the U.S. with everything being on sale. Only bigger.
Singles Day online shopping isn’t restricted to single people either. Big sales and promotions take place from November 10 and 11:59 pm all the way to November 12 at 11:59. The sales are a mystery–they are unlocked at 11:59pm November 1o so people have no idea how big the discount is until that time. The more you buy, the more discounts you get. Some brands even start a pre-sale before Singles Day and consumers are able to pay small amounts of deposit to secure the deals. Think Wal-Mart being open on Thanksgiving Day, and with a layaway option.
The fact that Chinese people tend to go with the flow really helps boost the Double Eleven Singles Day online shopping. For example, we tend to take it for granted when a dress is on sale for 50% off on a regular day in the physical store, while the exact same dress with the same discount on an online store on Double Eleven Singles Day is very likely to be sold out quickly. Everyone is buying online on Double Eleven and nobody wants to be left out and miss the deals. Double Eleven Singles Day online shopping in 2015 is expected to reach $10 billion within just 24 hours!
How to prepare for Singles Day
There is only one word to describe shopping online on Singles Day – stealing! But you have to act fast! On November 11th, there will be over two billion Chinese people logging on to Tmall at the same time. Even with over 27,000 domestic and global sellers participating, the stocks are not able to meet so many buyers’ needs. If you are slower than the others you will miss the deals. Below are my personal tips for the Singles Day online shopping war…yes, war!:
- Research items that are available for pre-sale and pay a deposit in advance to secure the deals and pay the balance on Double Eleven
- Ask all questions beforehand because the online shop agents won’t have time to reply to everyone’s questions on Double Eleven.
- Browse favorite brands a week in advance and put them into your shopping cart so you can checkout right away
- Gather as many coupons and red envelopes as possible from different online stores and use them on Nov 11 because those coupons and red envelopes are only valid for that day
- Add money to your Alipay account and make sure there are enough funds in Alipay for the goods in your basket
- Make sure your WiFi connection is perfect. When billions of people try to check out at the same time and your internet connection is poor, you payment will likely fail. If you try to checkout again later, the deal might be already be gone
- Have a good night’s rest the night before Double Eleven and be prepared for staying up late the day of
According to Tmall CEO Wang Yulei, they are planning to take Singles Day global:
This year for Singles Day, our core keyword is globalization. Starting from this year, future Singles Days will definitely not just be for consumers in a particular region, Singles Day will be for the whole world. Everyone knows the internet is flat, and this can?t just be a thing of the past. In the future, we?re going to offer better products to the entire country and to the entire world.
What?s the common point this year in the foreign media attention on the Chinese market brought on by the Alibaba IPO, Alibaba?s important cooperative agreements with many countries, France, Italy, Germany, and Jack Ma?s agreements with many countries? These countries see the massive potential of the Chinese market. In the past there was only the traditional method of creating a domestic brand, opening retail shops and sales channels, and it was a long process. But with the internet, this can be accomplished quite quickly. So that is our goal for this year?s Singles Day: the first step is globalization. We want consumers to be able to buy products from all over the world, and Chinese people all across the world to be able to buy the products they need. Our technology team has done a lot of work on this.
Happy shopping! Will you be participating in Double Eleven Singles Day? What will you buy?
Matt Clark is the Chairman and Co-Founder of Amazing.com, a serial entrepreneur, and investor. He’s been featured on Forbes, CNBC, and Entrepreneur.com.