Singles Day 2018 set to be biggest ever
Written by Peter Walker
While in the UK people will be marking Remembrance Day with sombre reflection, in China, 11 November means Singles Day, which has become the world’s largest off and online shopping spree.
Originally dreamed up by lonely students at Nanjing University in 1993, the celebration of being single - the 11 representing two single people - has since been capitalised upon by the country’s largest retailers.
This year’s celebrations are expected to be the most lucrative yet, fuelled by both Chinese consumer demand and international expansion.
App analytics firm App Annie predicts that Singles Day 2018 will not only be the largest day for consumer spending in history, but will set new mobile commerce records globally, with total spend surpassing $32 billion and mobile contributing the lion’s share of sales.
“We saw indications last year that Singles’ Day may begin to take a larger slice of the growing pie,” commented Paul Barnes, territory director at App Annie.
“Last year, Alibaba made a concerted effort to expand Singles’ Day into Western markets,” he continued. “In fact, Singles Day 2017 was the largest day for worldwide shopping app downloads and AliExpress in particular, saw a strong surge of app downloads in the US and the UK.”
In 2009 Alibaba really started monetising the unofficial Chinese national holiday on it e-commerce platform Tmall, Singles Day, promoting everything from home appliances to perfume. The company generated $25.3 billion in gross merchandise volume (GMV) and a further $19.1 billion in GMV for JD.com last year.
Ingenico Group reported in 2017 that it processed more than three times as many online transactions on Singles Day than it did on an average day, with growth particularly strong in Latin America, North America, Russia and key European markets.
Elena Gatti, managing director for sales at Azoya Group, which helps retailers enter China, explained that this year over 180,000 Chinese and global brands will be fighting for consumers’ attention on Tmall’s platform, with over 19,000 merchants from over 75 different countries selling through the cross-border Tmall Global.
“Last year’s Singles Day indicated that consumers are becoming more interested in purchasing through cross-border channels,“ she stated, adding that while just 5.4 and 4.9 per cent of sales on Tmall and JD.com respectively were from their cross-border platforms, on an absolute basis these numbers are growing rapidly.
This week, cross-border e-payment specialist PPRO Group announced a new partnership with ChinaPay, meaning the Chinese payments provider will be able to provide its merchants with access to several established European payment methods, including Eps, Giropay, iDEAL, Qiwi and SafetyPay.
Jack Elhers, director of product and payments network at PPRO Group, commented that many retailers are unprepared to make the most of the potential increase in sales from shopping events like Singles Day or Black Friday.
“To add to the stress for UK retailers, British consumers are now increasingly shopping overseas,” he pointed out. “70 per cent of UK consumers now buy goods online from overseas retailers, further emphasising the popularity of global e-commerce shopping, and further illustrating the importance of offering a preferred payment options during the busy shopping season.”