Singles Day in December? Alibaba’s “Double 12” Still Going Strong

May 31, 2014

Most of us are aware of the monstrous, $25 billion splash Singles Day has been known to make in the global e-commerce ocean each November. The one-day retail shopping holiday, adopted and promoted by Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, has become the world’s single biggest shopping day of the year.

Well, why have one massive, global shopping day when you can have two?

Alibaba has been steadily pushing its follow-up e-commerce holiday: Double 12. Mimicking the “double 11” of Singles Day, which was originally created as a reason for people to celebrate singledom on the symbolic date of 11/11, Double 12 takes place on December 12.

It may not be as monstrous as big brother Singles Day, but there are still plenty of opportunities for sellers everywhere to tap into the revenue potential of Double 12.

What’s Different About Alibaba’s Double 12?

Double 12 was first introduced by Alibaba to promote its Taobao marketplace, which consists primarily of small and midsize retailers. The event sought to improve Taobao’s reputation for counterfeit goods by encouraging sellers to focus on high quality products and services.

On the one hand, it hasn’t quite reached the record-smashing sales levels associated with Singles Day. The November event remains Chinese consumers’ favorite, with 88% of recently surveyed shoppers saying they’re familiar with the event.

But Double 12 isn’t too far behind. In a country where online and mobile shopping are often hours-long experiences, and where shopping festivals are a dime a dozen, “Double 11” and “Double 12” still hold the highest recognition among Chinese consumers.

Now a three-day wellspring of deals, Double 12 has grown from 20,000 participating merchants to approximately one million sellers serving more than 110 million consumers who take part in the event.

Where Double 12 really shines is in its data-driven, seamless integration of online and offline channels. Consumers are just as likely to find deals on movie tickets as they are mobile phones on December 12, which has been deemed “an offline shopping carnival catering to brick-and-mortar retailers.”

Fueled by Alipay, Alibaba’s digital wallet used by 520 million shoppers, the event makes it easy for consumers to tap and swipe their ways through hours of deals up to 50% off — from anywhere, on any mobile device. The effortless setup has even spurred a movement among “Double 12 Strategists” who have been known to plan out an entire day of discount-based eating, drinking, shopping and entertainment.

Who Is Double 12 For?

The focus has largely been on small and medium-sized independent vendors — ones that may have a harder time standing out in the big brand-dominated atmosphere of Singles Day.

And it’s no longer just Chinese merchants that are represented. Double 12 has extended well beyond China to cover 15 markets across four continents, with more than 100,000 merchants in foreign countries offering online exclusives to consumers using Alipay. Retailers and stores in India and Thailand have joined the shopping bonanza, as have sellers in the Philippines and Australia.

What’s Next for Double 12?

What happens this year remains to be seen, but we’ll be keeping a close eye on developments as they occur.

In the meantime, you can get the latest insights on expanding to China and other international markets in our white paper, Taking Your E-Commerce Business Global.  

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Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in December of 2014 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.