Singles’ Day or Guanggun Jie, which literally means “bare sticks holiday,” is a day for people who are single, celebrated in China on November 11 (11/11). The date is chosen for the connection between singles and the number one. It’s also one of the largest online shopping days in the entire world. Thanks to efforts from Alibaba and other Chinese e-commerce companies, this past Singles Day has been one of the biggest on the books.
“I wanted two different coats, but they both sold out in the first three minutes of the sale!” complained one young woman online.
This should not have been much of a surprise. Alibaba chief Executive Daniel Zhang did say in a statement, after all, that the event would mean “the whole world will witness the power of Chinese consumption.”
By the close of trade, Alibaba had seen sales worth 91.2 billion yuan ($14.3 billion), a staggering 60% increase from last year. The company also said that total sales exceeded $5 billion in just the first 90 minutes, about 72% of which were made from mobile devices.
“It’s literally a 24-hour orgy of consumption,” said Michael Zakkour, vice president, China/Asia Pacific Practice at global consulting firm Tompkins International.
Singles Day is much like Cyber Monday or Free Shipping Day in that it’s essentially a shopping holiday created by companies. Six years ago, Alibaba took the obscure Valentine’s Day-like holiday that first started in the 1990s, and transformed it into a shopping bonanza.
“The holidays are the most important time of the year for retailers because this is the time of the year when they make most of their money,” says Ron Blackwelder, Owner, Charlotte Local Marketing. “Whether they are online retailers or traditional store based retailers with an online presence, this is when they make their profits. This is even more true now that online sales are growing while traditional store sales are declining. So, it is extremely important for their online presence and their supply chain systems to be totally optimized around the customer experience.”
National and local marketing efforts to boost Cyber Monday sales have already begun with many of the best deals already being ranked. According to Techradar, Apple’s iPhone 6S and iPad Pro, the Star Wars BB-8 drone and Samsung Galaxy phones are likely to be hot ticket items, even though few places are offering deals on the products. Wal-Mart and Amazon are also said to offer some of the best deals, too.