The holiday shopping season, which starts from Thanksgiving weekend, is historically a commercial boon. In fact, over the 2018 Black Friday Cyber Monday (BFCM) period, consumers spent $14.1 billion. However, things are changing.
It’s a sign of the progress made as a global market that despite being a record-breaking period for the North American market, $14.1 billion over a four-day period is not a global sales record. That accolade belongs to Alibaba – the Chinese Internet behemoth – where on November 11, 2018 consumers spent $30.8 billion over a 24-hour period. This one-day phenomenon is called Singles’ Day.
While the 1990s was a time where couples were celebrated and marriage was encouraged in China, university students unofficially declared 11.11 – visually resembling four bare sticks – to be a day for the unattached.
Having seen the lucrativeness of Valentine’s Day, Alibaba’s Jack Ma saw an opportunity to associate Singles’ Day with a way for single people to treat themselves. In just over 10 years, Singles’ Day has become the biggest online sales event in the world as international companies have begun to regularly participate. And no, you do not have to be single to take part.
Today, Singles’ Day is much more than just an online shopping event, it’s an online festival. This year’s upcoming event (the 11th iteration) – known as the 11.11 Countdown Gala – will be headlined by Taylor Swift, with international and local supporting acts.
Black Friday – famous for its snaking, overnight queues into big-box stores – has seen a slowing in overall sales as consumers capitalized on the convenience of being able to shop anywhere, at any time online. As a result, Cyber Monday has overtaken Black Friday as the biggest North American shopping event – shoppers spending a total of $7.9 billion over that 24-hour period in 2018.
While these numbers won’t diminish significantly in the short-term, evidence points to shoppers slowly becoming jaded. For several years now discounts have become a year-round tactic employed by retailers in North America, so the once habitual wait for that big multi-day sales event every year is now less and less enticing.
As Black Friday Cyber Monday inevitably becomes less popular, widening your prospects into Asia seems sensible.
While both American and Chinese shoppers are spending less amid economic uncertainty due to very public trade frictions, there is still a penchant for finding a good deal among the Chinese, and perhaps more pertinent to your business, there’s very much an affinity for foreign brands.
If you’re looking to grow your brand across borders, exploring demand for your products in China could prove worthwhile. With TradeGecko, you’ll be able to sell internationally in multiple currencies, which opens up the possibilities for your operations. Though, it’s important to know that Singles’ Day is not just celebrated in China.
Singles’ Day (the shopping festival) started off as a marketing gimmick to pique the interest of Chinese consumers, but in the last few years, Singles’ Day has become a calendar event for just about every other Asian market. From Indonesia to Vietnam to South Korea, Singles’ Day is a yearly, regional celebration of consumerism.
While language may be a barrier to marketing internationally, there are English-speaking markets to consider: Singapore, for one, is a great entry point – and likely the easiest. The city-state, the purported home of the “crazy rich,” is eCommerce friendly. In fact, within the Southeast Asian region – in which Singapore belongs – there are a number of popular eCommerce sites.
Two of the most visited are Shopee, with 184.4m average visits per month, and Alibaba-owned Lazada – 179.7m average visits per month. Southeast Asians have collectively flocked eCommerce stores from the evening of November 10th past midnight November 11th, just to get their purchases done as quickly as possible. Many populate their shopping carts long before the Singles’ Day sales even begin, speeding up the buying process.
While Southeast Asia provides your business with an avenue into Singles’ Day, China – by far – is the market that could prove most lucrative. Chinese shoppers love shopping online: 35.3% of all retail shopping there is done online. However, before you jump on the bandwagon, there are dos and don’ts with regards to marketing internationally.
Luxury brands like Dolce & Gabbana and Versace have made profit-damaging mistakes when marketing in China. Don’t emulate these mistakes, but do learn as much about the culture within foreign markets before deploying any form of marketing. One mistake could be disastrous. Often what works in North America will not work in China, however, there are common marketing tactics that your business may already be doing, or at least are familiar with.
The world, through our ability to connect across borders, is getting smaller. This provides your business with the freedom to expand. As the North American shopping season dilutes and becomes less fruitful, expanding your business to the world’s biggest sales event is a high-yield opportunity – even when it happens on the other side of the world. If you take into consideration the key factors to success: educating yourself about and respecting cultural nuances, and planning your inventory and shipping sufficiently, there is every reason your business will have a successful Singles’ Day.
Start managing your inventory and sales orders from one seamless platform: TradeGecko.