Understanding Singles Day: China’s Mashup of Anti-Valentine’s Day & Cyber Monday

November 11, 2014

If past years are any indication, today will be the biggest online shopping day in the history of the world to date.

Whether you’ve noticed it or not, the annual retail holiday known as Singles Day is in full swing in China. And the sales volume it generates will most likely put the frenzy surrounding Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals to shame.

The holiday, however, had humble beginnings. It originated in the minds of several college students back in the ’90s who thought the numeral form of the date (11/11) looked like four solitary stick figures. They soon began recognizing the day by purchasing small gifts for themselves and fellow single peers.

It wasn’t until Alibaba came along and embraced it that Singles Day blew up to become an e-commerce phenomenon and the largest shopping day in the world.

Alibaba processed more than $5.75 billion sales last 11/11, making 2013’s Singles Day a new record in e-commerce history. Below we’ve compiled some significant facts to help you understand today’s impact on international e-commerce.

  • Singles Day now generates more e-commerce revenue than any other online shopping day in the world.

  • In 2013, 21% of orders on Taobao and Tmall on Singles Day were placed on mobile devices, compared to just 5% in 2012.

  • Alibaba reported that across all its sites it had 402 million unique visitors on Singles Day – more than a third of the adult population in China – and prepared 152 million parcels for shipping.

  • Last year, just 55 seconds after 0:00 on November 11, the transaction amount reached 100 million yuan ($16.3 million USD).

  • Chinese internet consumers have increased by about 20%, which is leading to predictions of an even bigger Singles Day this year.

  • This year, China’s post office is prepared to deliver more than 90 million packages daily, one or two days after the holiday.

Singles Day is not only the anti-Valentine’s Day. It’s essentially China’s answer to Cyber Monday — except bigger. We’re curious to see what impressive numbers today brings. As a retailer, are you going to try to get a piece of the action next year? Singles Day is only getting bigger.

In the meantime, if you’re interested in learning more about the e-commerce landscape in China, download our free eBook Understanding the Chinese Consumer.


Blog post by Jordan Nowlin, social media and blog manager, ChannelAdvisor