Selling Online? Your starting guide to Singles’ Day in China.


The Singles’ Day in China has become the biggest sales event of the year. In 2014, sales from Cyber Monday was 2.04 billion USD while that from Singles’ Day was $9.2 billion. If you are selling products online, we urge you not to overlook this opportunity to grow revenue for your company.

What is Singles’ Day?

Singles’ Day is on Nov. 11 (11/11). The number “1-1-1-1” resembles an individual, being alone. There are numerous stories on how this day has started in China. The most credible one is that it was originated from a college in Nanjing, a tier-2 cities in China, in 1993.

Unlike many of their peers, these four college male students sharing the same dormitory were not able to find girlfriends. They discussed ideas to share with others who were in similar shoes about the feeling that being single was something to be proud of.

On 11/11/1993, they held an event in the Nanjing college to encourage others to join them on group activities, parties, and gaming nights. In following years, this tradition was widely adopted by other colleges in the city of Nanjing. Upon graduating, these college students carried the university traditions to society. As more graduates enter the society sharing the same tradition, Singles’ Day celebration has gradually become a popular social event in the Chinese society.


Alibaba’s made Single’s Day the China’s Cyber Monday

In 2009, Alibaba’s Taobao started a sales event on 11/11/2009 with very enticing discounts products from Taobao. The event aimed to deliver a message to single males and females in the country – take good care of yourselves with a gift. Sales performance on that day surprised everyone in China.

Since 2009, Alibaba has launched a Singles’ Day sales campaign every year on 11/11. Sales on that day has significantly boosted Alibaba’s yearly revenue. This success led many other Chinese ecommerce players to follow. Gradually, it has become the signature event of China’s online shopping, and the world’s biggest shopping day.


What does it mean for brands and merchants?

Singles’ day promotions retain little connection with the people and events that inspired it. As a red letter for shoppers, it has spread beyond lonely hearts to Chinese consumers of all kinds – single or married.

For merchants and brands, it is a day to boost the revenue performance for the holiday season. Small and medium-size companies build weeks of inventory on popular products, hire 10 times of customer service representatives, and worked tireless on weeks leading to the Nov. 11.

12am and the 24 hours thereafter on Nov. 11 often means a survival or bankruptcy for a company.

The logistic systems were often overloaded during the Single’s Day, taking at least five business days to process all orders and deliveries placed on the Singles’ Days.


Global firms jumped in, too. Giants like Nike, Adidas, Procter & Gamble, Unilever and Samsung Electronics conducted Singles’ Day promotions, many of them using Tmall. Western companies have eagerly embraced e-commerce as a way to sell to Chinese shoppers in remote areas, where few of them have brick-and-mortar stores. “Online is giving them a much more effective way of reaching these consumers,” said Bryan Wang, an analyst at Forrester.


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