Alex Lawson

Last year Nicole Kidman was flown in for the televised gala. This year it’ll be Taylor Swift celebrating in Guangzhou. We’re talking about the biggest eCommerce day of the year, but odds are you haven’t even heard of it. It’s China’s “Singles’ Day”, celebrated on 11 November every year, and it’s bigger than Black Friday and Cyber Monday combined.

What is it?

Originally, Singles’ Day was created by Chinese university students as a way of observing anti-Valentine’s Day. The date was chosen because visually it looks like four single people in a row, and it’s why the day is also known as ‘bare sticks day’ or ‘double 11’. It was a day to lightheartedly celebrate their single status.

Over time, brands got on board and started promoting it as a way for people to treat themselves. Today, it has become the biggest eCommerce day of the year, with Alibaba (a Chinese multinational conglomerate) leading the charge in promoting it across China – including flying in international celebrities to kick it off.

How big are we talking?

Last year shoppers spent $30.8b USD in this single 24 hour period. To put that into context, Australia spent $10.7b AUD ($7.3b USD) across the entire Christmas season, both in-store and online. It takes us months to generate barely a third of what Chinese shoppers manage in 24 hours.

The numbers involved are mind-boggling. In 2017, Alibaba set a world record for most payment transactions: processing 256,000 payments per second. The total for the 24 hour period was 1.48 billion transactions, with almost 700 million delivery orders.

(And this seems like a good time to mention that if you’re keen to take on this world record, Balance Internet can help you with your eCommerce solution – just get in touch. Sorry, we couldn’t help ourselves. Now, back to Singles’ Day!)

Will it reach Australia?

There have been tentative steps by companies outside of China to bring it to the rest of the world, but there are some barriers to adoption in Australia.

Black Friday / Cyber Monday both originated in the USA, and both offer huge discounts as the unofficial kick-off of the holiday shopping season. Despite the American origin of these days, interest in these sales has crept into Australia, and last year it was the biggest week in Australia’s eCommerce history

Sign in window with 50 percent off during Black Friday

There’s also the technology. Alibaba uses their own payment system, Alipay, and Australian consumers don’t seem interested in adopting this over a credit card. Earlier this year, University of Sydney Business School Associate Professor Barney Tan told Business Insider Australia, “the market is already attuned to US offerings and there are less cost advantages to serving the Australian market. If you asked a typical Australian consumer, the chances are they’d say they go to eBay and Amazon rather than Taobao or Tmall.”

Still, never say never. Back in 2014, Wang Yulei (then Tmall CEO, now Head of Alibaba North Association) said that globalization was key to their strategy – “Everyone knows the internet is flat, and this can’t just be a thing of the past. In the future, we’re going to offer better products to the entire country and to the entire world.”


Is your eCommerce site prepared for the holiday season?

We won’t promise you Singles’ Day sales numbers, but our experience in building solutions integrating Magento with countless other platforms will help you drive sales and loyalty. Get in touch today for a no-obligation chat with someone in our friendly team.