Singles’ Day in China: What’s It All About?

Singles’ Day in China is a pretty big deal. By far the country’s, and indeed the world’s, biggest e-commerce day, this year saw customers spend a whopping $30bn! But what makes this one celebration SO popular when it comes to shopping? We’ve delved deep into the matter to answer this as well as several other key questions, especially: ‘How might Singles’ Day in China shape the future of e-commerce?’

So, what exactly is Singles’ Day?

Singles’ Day celebrates the pride in being single. Taking place every year on 11 November (11/11), a date chosen specifically because it reflects the significance of the number 1 regarding singles, it’s extremely popular among China’s young people.

How did it get to be so lucrative?

In 2009, e-commerce giant Alibaba took the simple celebration of Singles’ Day in China and turned it into a global phenomenon. Ten years (almost) down the line and its digital impact has outstripped those of the traditional UK and US shopping days by quite some margin.
This year, Alibaba recorded a total customer expenditure of $30.86bn, the highest ever in the platform’s history. What’s even more impressive is that this amount was taken in just 24 hours! A considerable increase on last year’s gross merchandise volume (GMV) of $25.3bn, this equates to almost THREE times the sum of Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales for 2017.

What’s the influence of Singles’ Day on the e-commerce industry as a whole?

The influence of Singles’ Day in China on the overall e-commerce industry is plain to see. Amazon has tried to replicate its success, but to no avail; their 2018 ‘Prime Day’ made just $4bn, less than 1/7th of this year’s total takings for Singles’ Day in China. However, its profitability is heavily down to the fact that Asia’s e-commerce market is so huge, as shown below:

And as for search metrics, Google Trends tells us that Singles’ Day traction outside China is very low, as illustrated here:

While the influence of Singles’ Day when it comes to actual conversions in Western markets is slim, there can be no denying its incredible effect in the East. If you happen to be a young, single shopaholic living in China, Singles’ Day is without question the perfect holiday!