What’s Driving Singles Day Growth (And Why Should You Care)?

15 November, 2018

If you thought last year’s Singles Day record was impressive …

If you still think Singles Day is for other e-commerce sellers …

Well …

Keep reading. There are some insights below that you won’t want to miss.

Put simply: This year’s 24-hour online shopping holiday blew all previous records to bits. But even as the world’s largest annual e-commerce event becomes so incredibly BIG, many sellers outside of China are still learning about the massive revenue potential that Singles Day — and all Chinese shopping holidays, for that matter — holds for them.

How Did Singles Day Get to Be So BIG?

Each year, as U.S. brands and retailers are ferociously planning for Black Friday promotions and Cyber Monday deals, Chinese shoppers gear up to spend billions of dollars on everything from electronics to healthcare supplements.

Originally started by students in China in the 1990s, it wasn’t until 2009 that the now-CEO of marketplace giant Alibaba had the idea to capitalize on this “holiday” as a way to overcome the sales lull between October and the Chinese New Year. The 24-hour sales event grew steadily at first, and then massively, until records were being crushed to the tune of billions of dollars in new sales — one November after another.

In 2015, Alibaba recorded a 60% increase to $14.3 billion in gross merchandise volume (GMV). Then $17.8 billion in 2016, and $25.3 billion in 2017. By the time it hit $30.8 billion in 2018, the number of participating sellers had expanded from 30 marketplace merchants to more than 180,000.

Fueled by “new retail” shopping experiences laden with technology and entertainment, China’s super consumers have come to view Singles Day as a meaningful occasion — one they plan for and actively participate in.

What Happened During Singles Day This Year?

The big news this year was what happened within the first hour of the 11.11.2018 launch. Sales hit $1 billion in 85 seconds, and reached $10 billion in just 60 minutes.

Even as the growth rate slows and financial experts question decisions to report on GMV instead of straight sales, the end result is undeniable.

Singles Day continues to prove just how much opportunity is in store for brands and retailers that sell to Chinese consumers.

To put this year’s results in perspective, Amazon’s Prime Day in July — the closest equivalent for US shoppers in terms of size and magnitude — is estimated to have generated $4 billion in revenue over the course of 36 hours.

When all was said and done, Singles Day 2018 generated almost 25% of the $124.1 billion that Adobe Digital Insights is projecting for the entirety of US online sales in November and December.

What Does It Mean for You?

It’s important to note that Singles Day is not just for Chinese brands — far from it, in fact. More than 40% of this year’s shoppers purchased products from international brands.

The same is true of online shopping throughout the year. Chinese consumers frequently turn to international sellers as they seek out apparel, electronics, home goods and more. eMarketer predicts cross-border retail e-commerce sales in China will reach $199.26 billion by 2022.

Editor’s note: This blog post was originally published on November 15, 2017. It has been updated to reflect the latest trends and sales records for the world’s biggest online shopping holiday.

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