Eleven reasons why Singles’ Day is the world’s raddest shopping holiday

By Katrin Büchenbacher Source:Global Times Published: 2017/11/9 16:58:39

A woman in Beijing searching on Tmall for discounted goods she wants to by on November 11. Photo: Li Hao/GT

Video blogger Yanzhi Biao ("attractiveness-obsessed B*tch") sits in front of a pile of cardboard boxes filled with items she ordered online. "I'm worth it" by Fifth Harmony plays in the background as she reveals body lotion, a phone charger inside a teddy bear and a Swiss Army knife from an endless sequence of boxes.

The video is entitled "What I purchased for my Singles' Day."

"I have no boyfriend to send me gifts," she says, smiling into the camera. But her smile freezes as she slowly pulls out a pair of cheap slippers with a black and white cow design.

"The smell!" She cries out. "They are stinky." But Yanzhi Biao gets another chance this year during Singles' Day, China's infamous shopping holiday, to order herself a pair of new slippers with a more pleasant scent.

On November 11, online shop servers will turn red hot, millions of delivery personal will work extra shifts and shopaholics' hearts will beat in excitement as they press the order button over and over again.

Be ready when the nation celebrates its eighth e-commerce carnival.

Here are the eleven reasons why Singles' Day is the world's raddest shopping holiday.

1. It's way bigger than Black Friday (and also more sophisticated)

Nothing can compare to the sheer enormity of China's online shoppers' favorite day of the year. Singles' Day is already the most significant shopping holiday in the world, and it's growing every year. People buy truckloads of consumer goods that they start preordering several weeks before.

Last year on November 11, Alibaba made nearly 120.7 billion yuan ($18.20 billion) in gross merchandise volume, almost three times as much as Black Friday and Cyber Monday combined together.

Taobao and Tmall processed 657 million orders last year. This year, consumers are expected to spend an average of 2,126 yuan ($320), Forbes reported, according to a survey conducted by the magazine.

And there is another reason why Singles' Day beats Black Friday. When people think of Black Friday, in addition to great deals, they think about people cramped inside shopping malls and losing their dignity in a fistfight for an HD flat screen TV.

With Singles' Day, you can sit at home in your comfortable pajamas, holding a mug of green tea and simply order the items you previously put in your shopping cart with a touch of your fingertip and a mobile phone. Then, you can sit back, relax and wait for delivery.

An express delivery man and the parcels he will deliver in Beijing. Photo: Li Hao/GT

2. It has three different names

For something as incarnated in Chinese popular culture as Singles' Day, one name is not enough. So let's dive into the brief history of the yearly event.

November 11, or 11/11, has been created as an antidote to Valentine's Day, which is celebrated three times a year in China, but that is another story. The four ones in the date symbolize absolute solitude; therefore, they are perfect to celebrate the single life.

On this day, singles often eat fried dough sticks, as they resemble the four ones in the date. Therefore, people also refer to the holiday as "Bare Stick Day."

But in 2009, Alibaba's CEO Jack Ma saw his chance and turned it into an occasion where singles can be treated by showering themselves with gifts in an online shopping frenzy. The four ones are also "Double Eleven," and this has become the most common name of the shopping holiday in China and a registered trademark of Alibaba.

Today, it is a holiday not only for singles but for everyone with a full bank account.

3. It's a paradise for bargain shoppers (with a mathematician's brain)

The Chinese, as do most people in the world, love to save money. Double Eleven is so famous because many companies offer crazy discounts of 50 percent off or more.

However, the online promotions and discounts reach another level in China. If consumers buy, preorder, share or recommend the product, various discounts apply. The advertisements and discount get so complicated that it is hard to calculate the actual price of the product, as famous video blogger Papi shows in her recent parody where she ends up calling her primary school math teacher to help her figure out the price after deducting all the different discounts.

4. It has its own countermovement

Singles' Day is so prevalent in China that it has its own anti-movement on social media.

Not everyone fancies commercialism, and many oppose the fact that Singles' Day was captured by Alibaba to maximize profits. On Sina Weibo, a Chinese microblog, the topic "I'm not going to buy anything on Singles' Day" is destined to be trending again this year. While some people splurge, others do not have this kind of pocket money.

Some distrust the quality and trustworthiness of the items sold on that day. "Some online shops choose to sell lower quality items on this day to make more money," an Internet user posted.

There are minimalists too. Internet user "wheat bag" posted: "I only buy stuff when needed."

5. It uses technology to revolutionize the retail market

Big data, virtual reality (VR), Internet of Things (IoT): Singles' Day manifests the fact that China sets trends in new technology and innovation best.

Big data analyzes which region needs which products and places them there in advance. Shops use VR tours and live streaming to present their products to prospective clients. Customers place 82 percent of their orders via their cell phone. Robots sort out the packages, and algorithms tell the delivery person the fastest route to take. This year, the most popular consumer products are connected household objects that belong to the IoT, such as robot vacuum cleaners and even Internet cars, such as the Roewe RX5, jointly launched by Alibaba and SAIC Motor last year.

Double Eleven transforms the way people sell, shop and live.

6. It is expected like Christmas

To add to the excitement and buzz around the holiday, Alibaba organizes a count-down gala to celebrate the start of Singles' Day. Chinese shoppers are impatiently waiting to place their orders just like children on Christmas Eve. Similar to Christmas, it has become fashionable to order gifts for friends and family on Double Eleven as well.

However, in China, opening the presents might take a while longer. With so many orders placed and delivery companies that need to ship billions of items across the country, prolonged waiting times are inevitable.

7. It is becoming a global festival

Online shopping fans outside of Chinese mainland need to wait no more. The Chinese online-shopping realms will soon be at your fingertips. Jack Ma is dedicated to expanding the benefits of his marketing coup beyond the Chinese mainland, as he now calls it the "11.11 Global Shopping Festival."

Hong Kong and Taiwan are going to be part of Double Eleven this year for the first time.

Not only have retailers abroad recognized the opportunity to market to a Chinese audience, but shoppers across the world are increasingly encouraged to buy online at a discounted price on Double Eleven.

"I think we'll see much more 11.11, Singles' Day activity in the US as it continues to grow," Alibaba vendor John McPheters said to the Financial Times.

A dozen planes are chartered to transport goods from China to Singles' Day overseas fans, Sixth Tone reported.

8. It's a unique opportunity for foreign brands

November 11 is the day when doors open for companies abroad who want to access and gain influence on the Chinese market. Thirty-seven percent of clients have bought from foreign brands last year. The countries selling the most that day are Japan, the US, South Korea, Australia and Germany; Apple, Siemens, Nike and Playboy being among the most popular foreign brands. Uniqlo rules in the men's apparel section and Lancôme and L'Oreal in the beauty section.

9. It's beyond just Alibaba (and that's exciting!)

JD.com has become a close competitor to Alibaba's Taobao and Tmall on Double Eleven. Since the platform known for its electronics has bought consumer data from Internet giants such as Baidu and Tencent, it can target clients specifically. The rivalry between the two e-commerce companies will continue to fuel discounts and make the products even cheaper for 11.11 enthusiasts.

10. It's beyond e-commerce

The integration of e-commerce, stores and logistics aided by data are called "new retail," a term created by Jack Ma

Double Eleven has moved from an exclusively online experience to an offline experience as well, as many department stores and shops participate. For example, the Spanish apparel brand Zara offered 50 percent off on all the items in their physical stores last year.

11. It's going to be an entire shopping season

E-commerce mogul Jack Ma is about to turn one special day into a shopping season, similar to the two sales periods in European countries.

However, the fact that it happens within 24 hours adds to the exclusiveness of the event. After all, it's the world's raddest shopping holiday. May it continue to make shopaholics, companies and the national economy happy for many years to come!

Newspaper headline: Double eleven madness


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