What is Singles’ Day?
ingles’ Day is China’s annual shopping extravaganza that takes place on 11 November (11.11). It is not only China’s but the world’s biggest online shopping event: last year shoppers spent a whopping US $25.4 billion in the space of 24 hours.
The original Singles’ Day dates back to the early 1990’s when it originated as a kind of a protest against Valentine’s Day among university students. The date 11.11. was chosen because it contained the most ones (number ones look a lot like sticks, which symbolize gunzi/guanggun or bachelors in Chinese). A growing middle class embraced the event and turned it into a cultural phenomenon.
The modern day version came to existence when the e-commerce giant Alibaba started using it to promote discounts on its online shopping platforms. Last year more than 812 million orders were placed, 90% of which were on mobile. Whilst the event is still heavily associated with Alibaba, competitors such as JD.com have caught on and have started pushing hard for sales.
JD.com website promoting their Singles’ Day deals in the run-up to this year’s event.
Why is it a big deal?
oday Singles Day is not just shopping holiday, but a showcase of retail innovation. In addition to heavily promoting the event at its online stores, Alibaba has recently tested physical pop up shops powered by mobile and facial recognition payments. In order to manage the high number of deliveries, the company opened its first smart warehouse staffed by robots last year.
Besides China, the event has already surpassed all other shopping holidays in Hong Kong. It has also become popular in countries like Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines thanks to Alibaba’s stake in Lazada, the dominant online retailer in Southeast Asia. While Chinese e-commerce growth is expected to slow down, Alibaba has hinted at intentions to open up the event to the rest of the world. With its 10th anniversary set to be another record breaker, we think that true world domination could be closer than ever.