What is Singles Day?

Singles Day is nothing less than the most important e-commerce shopping day in the world.

It was concocted in 1993 by students from Nanjing University as the answer to Valentine’s day. What has started as a day to celebrate people who are not in relationships, has turned into an event that generates revenue that easily exceeds the yearly gross domestic product of entire countries like Croatia, Slovenia, or Costa Rica. 

The important role that Singles Day has taken today can be credited mainly to Alibaba. The Chinese e-commerce giant has made the day what it is now. However, other big e-commerce players like CD.com jumped on the bandwagon early and have been promoting the Singles Day festival through offers and marketing campaigns ever since. 

When is Singles Day 2021?

Singles Day is observed every year on the 11th of November. The date (11.11) consists of four “1” which refer to the demographic group of single people.

Facts and figures of Singles Day 2020

Just as in previous years, the existing records for sales, revenue, and alike were pushed even further in 2020. However, despite a high starting level, enormous increases were recorded making Singles Day 2020 a special one. Let's take a look at some interesting and impressive facts and figures of Singles Day 2020.

  • 250.000 brands participated in Singles Day 2020
  • 800 million users participated in Singles Day 2020
  • Alibaba generated a stunning $74 billion during the festival
  • Revenues of Alibaba increased by nearly 93% YoY
  • 2020 was the first time that Alibaba extended the event from one day to 4
  • The top-selling categories include electronics, cosmetics, beauty items, and fashion.
  • The vast majority of sales (90% in 2019) were generated via mobile commerce.
  • The top 5 countries selling to Chinese shoppers during 11.11 were Japan, the USA, South Korea, Australia, and Germany.

Alibaba revenue during Singles DayRevenue in $

How is Singles Day different from Black Friday and Cyber Monday?

Many Western merchants believe that Black Friday and Cyber Monday are the most important e-commerce shopping days of the year. No doubt, this is true for the most part. However, taking a step back and looking at global e-commerce, Black Friday and Cyber Monday are not even close to reaching the number of Singles Day.

Revenues

Believe it or not, Alibaba on its own has generated more revenue than the combined revenue during the thanksgiving weekend (including Black Friday and Cyber Monday) in the US… times 2.

If you think Amazon plays in its own league in terms of e-commerce sales, you are going to be surprised. Alibaba generated nearly 7 times as much revenue ($74.1 billion) as did the American counterpart during Amazon Prime Day ($10.4 billion) 2020.

Even the second strongest e-commerce player in China, JD.com ($42.45 billion) could outperform Amazon by 4x.

Alibaba revenu SD vs. BFRevenue in $

Emergence

Another major difference is the way these shopping events have evolved. Singles Day emerged as a day to celebrate singles and unmarried people at first in 1993. It was picked up by Alibaba and has been turned into a shopping day that was mainly focused on e-commerce from the beginning.

Black Friday, on the other hand, as a retail holiday has a long tradition and its focus has only lately turned towards e-commerce. In fact, since the early 1900s, American companies offered outrageous deals on the day after Thanksgiving.

Culture

Another obvious difference is the culture of the majority of the shoppers. Black Friday and Cyber Monday have their origins in the U.S., while Singles day is rooted in China. 

Another notable difference between the three is that Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales have spread mainly across the entire Western world, and in recent years, their sales have been rising also in the East. In contrast, Singles Day conquered Asian markets first and is now gaining popularity and importance in Europe and US as well.



Singles Day outside of Asia

According to Statista, the awareness of Singles Day in Europe is increasing every year. From 2019 to 2020 the awareness of that day within Europe increased from 14.1% to 16.6% on average. People from Germany lead this statistic (21.3%), followed by the Netherlands (20.5%), the UK (19.7%), and France (16.6%).

The strongest sales spikes for Singles Day 2020 in Europe could be observed in France (111%), Norway (89%), Italy (68%), and Germany (43%) according to Criteo’s data.

Sales in the U.S. also rose significantly, which can be exemplified by Nike’s $15 million in sales in the first minute. 

The same is true for Singles Day in Australia, where the day before another similar event, called Click Frenzy, is happening. That seems to get online shoppers in the right mood. Online sales rose by 46% compared to the average sales day in October 2020 during the 10th and 11th of  October.

An impact of Singles day can also be noticed in LATAM countries like Brazil (+49%) and Mexico (+127%). The huge increase of the latter one can be explained by another shopping event that is happening before the Singles day - it is called El Buen Fin.

Awareness of Singles Day

How to prepare for Singles Day 2021?

As the data from Singles Day 2020 shows there is immense potential, not only for Asian companies but also for merchants from the rest of the world.

If you are a merchant taking part in Singles Day 2021, there are some things you should keep in mind to stay on top of things. 

Tip #1 Keep your profits in mind

Many merchants lose their heads and fall into a gold-rush-like state when there is the possibility to increase revenue. While increasing your sales is great, making profits should be your priority. Precisely calculate how much of a discount you can offer your potential customers.

Tip #2 Keep an eye on your stock levels

In the holiday season of 2021, stock levels will be a decisive factor for many e-commerce companies, and for some of them, it will be a bottleneck. Don’t be one of these companies and avoid your and your customers’ frustration by ensuring that you have enough inventory.

Tip #3 Keep it simple

In business as in life, you should try keeping things simple more often than not. This is true for e-commerce as well, especially when it comes to shopping days like Singles Day. Don’t overwhelm your customers with complicated offers or multiple discount codes. Offer one product that they really want. It will facilitate their decision as well as your operations.

Tip #4 Use the power of your funnels

While it can be a good idea to put money into Google ads or display ads, make sure to use your organic power via email and your social channels. This way you can reach prospects that have already interacted with your brand, free of cost.

Tip #5 Find new customers and keep them

With a Singles Day offer, you might win new customers. That is great! However, it would be a shame if it stopped there. The first sale is your chance to prove that your shop is worth returning to. Fast and reliable shipping is one part of the buying experience that customers today value most. Moreover, make sure to be responsive in case issues arise and offer uncomplicated returns solutions. 

How to win Singles Day 2021

Singles Day has some specifics that you should know about to win the shopping event in 2021. 

Tip #1 Boost your social media content that fits Singles Day

This event is all about self-love. This is something every brand should be able to get behind. And that is exactly what you should do as well, especially if it fits your products. If it fits your brand personality, use memes, puns, and gifs on your channels. Also think about using infographics, and personal or humorous content. Images and videos usually perform well in that regard. About 70% of our sensory receptors are in our eyes and humor can increase attention and memory.

Tip #2 Livestream your Singles Day 2021 sales launch

E-Commerce via Livestream is a huge thing in Asia - especially during Singles Day. While this trend in other continents has not yet come close to the multiple billions of Dollars and Euros it generates in Asia, it is worth trying for every online merchant in 2021 - what can you lose? 

Tip #3 Focus on mobile commerce

Not only in China is mobile commerce key to a successful Singles Day 2021. Optimize your pages for mobile users. Global online shopping orders contributed to 57% of the sales in the first quarter of 2021. Optimize your offer or others will do it.

Tip #4 If you sell to Asia, beware of cultural differences

While going into detail about cultural differences is beyond the scope of this article, there are some easy tips that you can implement. For Singles Day, discount codes that are a multiple of 11 have worked well in the past (e.g. 11%, 22%, 33%). Of course, check first your profit margins are high enough to offer such a discount. Moreover, try to avoid the number 4 if you’re selling in China, as this is considered an unlucky number there.


FAQ

When is Singles Day 2021?

As every year, Singles Day 2021 is the 11th of November (11.11)

Who created Singles Day?

Singles Day was created by four Chinese Students from Nanjing University in 1993 to celebrate being single. 

Which is bigger in terms of revenue, Singles Day or Black Friday?

In terms of revenue, Singles Day is clearly bigger than Black Friday. It generated more than double the revenue of Black Friday and Cyber Monday combined.

Which is bigger in terms of revenue, Singles Day or Prime Day?

In terms of revenue, Singles Day is unquestionably bigger than Prime Day. In fact, Singles Day 2020 generated more revenue than Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Prime Day combined.

Who participates in Singles Day?

The main drivers of Singles Day have been Chinese E-Commerce companies led by Alibaba and JD.com. However, Singles Day is becoming increasingly popular in Western countries.