Singles’ Day, also referred to as Double 11 or 11.11, falls unsurprisingly on 11th November. This relatively new festival began at a university campus in China in the 90s, when young singletons took it upon themselves to throw a party to celebrate single life. What started off as a great excuse for a party quickly transformed into one of the largest shopping events of the year.
This blog will reveal the origins of Singles’ Day, as well as uncovering some success stories of non-Chinese brands who have seized the opportunity and taken advantage of the festival.
Tmall Origins and development,
Formerly Taobao Mall, operated by the Alibaba Group, is the largest B2C eCommerce shopping site in China. Currently, the Tmall site has gathered more than 12,000 international brands, 180,000 local brands, and 89,000 flagship shops.
On 11th November 2009, Tmall, along with 27 other brands, launched the very first 11.11 Shopping Festival to celebrate Singles’ Day, and within 24 hours, Tmall achieved £5,619,800 in sales, with Jack Jones emerging as the sales leader with record sales of £561,877.
Revenue from the event has increased exponentially over the years and according to Alibaba, in 2016, the majority of purchases were made by mobile, which accounted for 81.87% of total sales.
Only 52 seconds after the festival launched, over 1 bn¥ (£15bn) of sales were recorded, and by the end of the day, Tmall had total sales of 120,748,589,125¥, which is equivalent to £13.9bn. This is 11 times the revenue of the UK’s Black Friday online sales (£1.23bn), 15 times Boxing Day’s online sales (£900m) and 25 times of Amazon Prime Day’s sales (£560m).
Last year, over 657 million parcels were delivered to every part of China. All of the major shipping companies had to work around the clock to deliver the parcels on time. It is predicted that there will be over 1 billion parcels sent out on Double 11, 2017 and shipping companies are already preparing for the spike in deliveries.
Take advantage of Singles’ Day
Double 11 has become a globally recognised shopping festival and is no longer Alibaba or China-specific. Its growing reputation and record sales have attracted the attention of other eCommerce giants in China and encouraged them to participate in the event. Such organisations include Jing Dong (eCommerce platform similar to Tmall), Jumei (specialising in cosmetic products), Suning (specialising in home appliances), and more, many of which have stated that Double 11 is now their most profitable day of the year.
A number of non-Chinese brands have also made impressive sales by participating in Singles’ Day. In 2015, Uniqlo recorded the highest sales in the women’s fashion category. After only 2 minutes and 53 seconds, Uniqlo made over £100 million in sales and became the first shop to reach £100 million in sales in all categories. Additionally, Uniqlo had to close its Tmall shop after only half a day in Double 11 2016 due to selling out of stock before the event even ended. Uniqlo achieved approximately £70 million in sales last year.
Despite a strong performance, the leader of sales in the apparel category for 2015, Uniqlo, was overtaken by Nike, with sales revenue over £70 million. According to Alibaba, Nike was already in the lead over last year’s pre-sales period, from 21st – 31st October. Although Nike’s pre-sales period finished earlier than other shops, the pre-sales revenue remained the highest by the 7th November, four days before the kickoff of Singles’ Day. After only 10 minutes of the event starting on 11th November, Nike had already reached the entire revenue they achieved on Singles’ Day in 2015. Nike’s Tmall shop is undoubtedly a strong contender to be the number-one sales leader in the apparel category again this year.
Are you ready for this year’s Singles’ Day?
This year’s Singles’ Day is just around the corner, with many Tmall shops having already started their pre-sales or advertising their sales. We have also seen more and more British brands taking part and organising their special sales events specifically for Tmall or specifically for China.
Clarks’ pre-sale for 11.11 2017.
Topshop’s pre-sale for 11.11 2017.
Superdry’s pre-sale for 11.11 2017.
Marks & Spencer’s pre-sale for 11.11 2017.
If you work in retail, don’t miss the huge opportunities Singles’ Day offers to gain additional traffic and boost sales.
There may come a day in the near future when China’s Singles’ Day will reach the UK and become one of the most important shopping festivals – just like the US’s Black Friday.
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