The world’s biggest online shopping day is happening tomorrow thanks to a phenomenon you’ve probably never heard of – Singles Day.
Singles Day is a Chinese celebration held on November 11 every year and it’s all about single people buying presents for themselves.
The date is best known as Remembrance Day in Australia but in China the numbers 11.11 are considered to be particularly auspicious and Chinese online retail platform Alibaba even tried to trademark “11.11” there.
In 2013 Alibaba recorded RNB 35 billion ($6 billion) sales in one day for Singles Day.
Last year 2.5 times more merchandise was sold on Singles Day in China than on Cyber Monday in the United States, traditionally America’s biggest annual online shopping day.
This year China’s online retailers are predicting multiples of last year: “It’s going to be scary,” Jack Ma, head of Alibaba said.
The most popular categories on Singles Day last year were clothing, mobile phones, digital, cosmetics and personal care.
But the general manager of growth and emerging markets at Austrade, David Landers, told SmartCompany this year food and beverage is tipped to displace personal care in the top five, presenting a real opportunity for Australian SMEs.
In particular, Chinese online shoppers are especially concerned with food safety and see Australia as a trusted provider of safe, clean and healthy food.
The majority of shoppers spend up to a week planning their purchase.
“They are not spontaneous purchases; they are very well considered and thought through,” Landers says.
“Singles Day is a quirky unique phenomenon but it does illustrate the power of ecommerce in China.”
The day is thought to have originated from a celebration in 1993 at Nanjing University of “bachelors day” but this was changed to the more inclusive “singles day”.
There was no commercial component initially but the day gradually developed into a practice of shopping – for yourself.
Now Singles Day is a celebration of the rise of the Chinese consumer as a global force.