In the United States the holy grail of retail sales is Black Friday, with Cyber Monday doing the same for the e-commerce sector. While Americans wake up at ungodly hours and fight with other shoppers in the parking lot over places in line, China has been crushed both retail holidays in a single day through e-commerce platforms Alibaba and JD.com.
This record-breaking shopping day is ironically called, Single’s Day and takes place each year on November 11th. It was actually the brainchild of university students in the 90’s to be an anti-Valentines’ day in which singles would treat themselves to presents. The Guardian reports that the date was chosen (11/11) because of, “its collection of lonely ones.” Now as a pop culture phenomenon in Asia, the annual shopping event is promoted by Alibaba.
Alibaba is the biggest sponsor of Single’s Day. According to them, on Saturday, “over 15 million products from more than 140,000 brands, including 60,000 international brands,” had sales on their Tmall. Companies rush to slash prices to promote spending for the event. Alibaba opened its first fully robot-run warehouse to accommodate the mass influx of purchasing taking place. JD.com is the other main marketplace to step up to the plate for the holiday. According to Forbes, they partnered with Wal-Mart to help with logistics and speed up deliveries on the 19 billion dollars worth of merchandise they sold.
Breaking Bank Accounts Records
This year Single’s Day saw its most profound growth. It now checks out at four times larger than Black Friday and Cyber Monday. It was reported that there was a 40% increase on spending on Alibaba and within the first two minutes of the holiday, already 1 BILLION dollars of merchandise had sold. In the same report, the total sales in the small 24-hour period are to the tune of 26 billion dollars.
While the holiday is heavily promoted in Asia in the same way Black Friday and Cyber Monday are domestically, Alibaba wants to see this turn into an international shopping event. To kick off the celebration and increase exposure, Tmall hosted a countdown the night before. The guest list of performers included Chinese celebrities in addition to Pharrell.
Each year news of record-breaking sales and performances will most likely permeate the internet if things keep going in the same fashion. And then, it will be enough to lure in the international shoppers it needs to be a global phenomenon. In the end, who would’ve predicted that what started as an anti-Valentine’s Day for singles would become the biggest shopping day in the world.