Estimated read time: 3 minutes, 49 seconds
Nope, we’re not talking about Singles’ Awareness Day (a.k.a. Valentine’s Day), although it does share the same sentiments. We’re talking about Singles’ Day—the biggest online shopping event in the world. Yep, it’s even bigger than Black Friday. In fact, it’s bigger than Black Friday and Cyber Monday combined!
The big question is, “If Singles’ Day is such a big deal, why don’t we talk about it the United States?” Before we answer that, let’s take a step back and talk about what Singles’ Day actually is.
What is Singles’ Day?
Singles’ Day, or “bare sticks holiday,” is November 11. You’ll notice that 11.11 looks like four solitary bare sticks, which represents all you lovely single people out there. The holiday started in 1993 at Nanjing University as a way for students to celebrate their singledom. I know; that still doesn’t tell you why people spend all the money on November 11. Keep reading.
How did Singles’ Day start?
In 2009, Alibaba and its founder, Jack Ma, decided to turn the anti-Valentine’s Day into an ecommerce dream. Essentially, they made it the ultimate “Treat yo’ self” holiday—a day when Chinese singles are encouraged to buy gifts for themselves. Now, it’s a global shopping festival that is making Alibaba billions of dollars. Pretty lucrative idea, huh?
How does Singles’ Day work?
The event kicks off at midnight on November 11 and runs for 24 hours with steep discounts on all types of products. Tmall, an Alibaba-owned platform, is the main driver of the event, but other platforms are starting to get in on the action.
This year, 140,000 brands (including 60,000 international brands) will be offering discounts on Tmall. In order to compete, other platforms are working hard to attract new brands and Singles’ Day shoppers.
What impact does it have on business?
In 2016, Alibaba made $17.8 billion on Singles’ Day alone, and $5 billion of that was made within the first hour of the event. This year, they intend to break that record. While you may be thinking, “Of course, Alibaba is making all the money—they invented the holiday,” the same principle applies to Amazon Prime Day. Even though Amazon hosts the event, they’re not the only business that benefits. We’re also seeing more and more US businesses taking advantage of this relatively new sales event.
What does Singles’ Day mean for digital businesses?
What does Black Friday or Cyber Monday mean for digital businesses? They’re great opportunities to boost sales and attract new customers. And even though it’s a predominantly Chinese holiday, there’s no reason you can’t sell your products and services globally, right? Unless you’re not capable of handling foreign transactions. In which case, you should read on.
How can you get involved if you’re in the United States?
Treat Singles’ Day just like BFCM, and create a marketing campaign that attracts both domestic and global buyers. Many people in the United States may not know or understand Singles’ Day, but they definitely won’t say no to discounts.
On Singles’ Day, you can either sell your products or services on a Chinese platform or your own site or app. If you use your own website, here are a few tips to prepare you for this unique holiday:
- Make sure you are ready to accept foreign transactions. For example, Chinese buyers most often use Alipay, UnionPay, and major credit cards. To make your life easier, get an all-in-one ecommerce platform to ensure you’re capable of processing any type of transaction. Solutions like FastSpring handle all payment types and exchange rates and make sure you’re compliant with all global and local rules and regulations.
- Create localized shopping experiences. This means showcasing product information in multiple languages, featuring multiple currencies, and calculating the appropriate amount of taxes. With FastSpring, you can do this automatically based on the geo-location of your customers. Businesses that incorporate localized experiences into their ecommerce see a 30% increase in sales.
- Focus on the mobile experience. The majority of transactions on Singles’ Day occur via mobile devices. You might be turning away up to 90% of your potential holiday sales if your site’s shopping experience isn’t mobile friendly.
While Singles’ Day is already changing the face of retail and ecommerce in China, it’s only a matter of time before it starts competing with Black Friday and Cyber Monday as the biggest sales event in the US and UK. So jump in on the ground floor and start taking advantage of more sales and great global reach now.