Singles' Day (11.11)

Seven things to know about Singles’ Day

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 10 November, 2016, 11:36pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 28 February, 2017, 4:25pm

Here is what you need to know about the world’s largest online shopping event:

- What is Singles’ Day?

Singles’ Day started as an idea among students in China during the 1990s to organise activities to break free of their loneliness. The four digits 11.11 resemble sticks -- gunzi -- which evolved into guanggun, or bachelors. Single women adopted the festival as an antidote to Valentine’s Day.棍子

- How did Singles’ Day become China’s biggest online shopping event?

Alibaba turned November 11 into an online shopping event in 2009. Alibaba trademarked the 11.11 name in 2012.

- Is Singles’ Day bigger than Black Friday and Cyber Monday?

Singles’ Day became the world’s biggest online shopping event in 2012 when Alibaba generated US$3.06 billion in gross merchandise volume (GMV) in just 24 hours.

American consumers spent US$1.46 billion on Cyber Monday and US$1.04 billion on Black Friday in the same year.

- Why do Chinese consumers and merchants care about Singles’ Day?

Singles’ Day now encompasses all of Alibaba’s online retail platforms, including Tmall.com, Taobao Marketplace, group-buying portal Juhuasuan. Even competitors like JD.com, Amazon China, Suning and VIPshop are riding on the day’s coat tails in offering bargains to attract shoppers.

- What records did Alibaba set in 2015?

Alibaba set a 2015 Guinness World Record for US$14.3 billion of GMV over 24 hours.

- What is the expectation for this year’s Singles’ Day sales?

Alibaba wouldn’t comment on a target. Its technical platform is able to handle as many as 600 million transactions during the 24 hours. More than 2 million couriers will be on hand to deliver 1.05 billion packages. According to a South China Morning Post survey of analysts tracking the company, the average estimate is for a 2016 haul of US$18.45 billion, or a 29 per cent increase from last year.

- What does Singles’ Day sales mean to China’s economy?

The sales are seen as a barometer of the country’s retails sales as it reveals Chinese consumers’ purchasing power and appetite.