One may be the loneliest number, but, in China, the celebration of singledom takes on a commercial slant. In lieu of Cyber Monday in the US, China’s Singles Day has become the world’s most massive shopping spree and e-commerce sites are making major preparations for the event next week.
On November 11, singles in China get together, eat fried dough shaped like the long number one and shop. A lot.
Last year, Alibaba’s Singles Day sales hit a record 278 million orders worth around RMB57.1 billion (US$9.3 billion).
The commercial take on the lonely hearts’ day started in 2009 when Alibaba began offering huge discounts for the anti-Valentine’s Day holiday. In 2012, the e-commerce giant trademarked “Double 11”, a term used to describe Single’s Day.
Alibaba’s sales surpassed the US$3.7 billion in online sales recorded last year on Thanksgiving Day, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday — the largest online sales days in the US — within the first several hours of November 11, 2014.
Other players cashing in
Cainiao Logistics, Alibaba’s affiliate, recently unveiled its groundwork for the heavy duty online day this year, with stats reading as if it was going to war: It will be deploying 1.7 million delivery personnel, 400,000 vehicles, 5,000 warehouses and 200 aircraft.
Meanwhile, more than 100 Japanese companies, including clothing chain Uniqlo, will debut shops on Alibaba’s Singles’ Day site.
Alibaba will be sharing headlines this year, with other players stepping up. JD.com and Tencent announced a partnership to “provide merchants with innovative mobile marketing solutions ahead of this year’s Single’s Day promotion.” It is expected that the extent of this partnership will become clearer as the date looms closer.
Smaller companies are also using the day to roll out slash deals. Nubia, the Chinese handset brand that recently unveiled a series of upgraded smartphones, will be selling 30,000 Nubia Z9 units with RMB1,000 (US$158.4) discount before Single’s Day.
But it is not just e-commerce sites based in China taking advantage of this holiday.
Lazada, headquartered in Singapore, is launching its online sale dubbed the “Online Revolution 2015”, the biggest retail event of the year. The event will begin full scale in all six countries where it operates: Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam from November 11.
Brands and merchants in Southeast Asia and other international markets such as China, Hong Kong, US and UK will join the sale to bring an assortment of more than 10 million products in over 13 categories, according to Lazada representatives.