Singles’ Day: why it’s the world’s biggest shopping day and what can Australian marketers learn from it?

11 Nov 2016

  • Innovation
  • Strategy
  • Technology
  • Digital Marketing

By: Alicia Tan, Managing Editor, ADMA

It’s official: Cyber Monday and Black Friday combined has nothing on China’s Singles’ Day, which raked in almost $20 billion in sales last year. The online shopping event takes place on November 11 annually, and involves merchants hawking all sorts of goods on China’s e-commerce giant, Alibaba’s two online marketplaces Tmall and Taobao.

Singles’ Day launched in 2009 with only 27 merchants, and in just a span of seven years, has grown to a base of 10,000 merchants including global brands such as Uniqlo, Nike, Target and Apple offering attractive markdowns and discounts. It has been predicted by Forbes that this year’s event will rake in over $26 billion in gross sales, which means that $1 billion in transactions will be made every hour.

So how did Alibaba manage to surpass its US counterpart’s online shopping event so quickly? It all boils down to strategy, one that has been well thought out to include multiple touchpoints.

In order to promote the event, Alibaba pulled out all the stops and started its promotional activities more than a month ahead of the big day. Going beyond the traditional billboards and banner ads, the company kicked off its promotional activities with a live streamed fashion show that went on for a whopping eight hours. The show enabled consumers from all over the world to shop in real-time from both luxury and high street brands and attracted more than six million viewers.

Also notable is the countdown television show that the company puts together on the eve of the event. Introduced last year and produced by David Hill – the man behind the Super Bowl – the star-studded show rivals even the Oscars and features celebrity heavyweights like Katy Perry, Daniel Craig, Kobe Bryant and David Beckham to entice international shoppers. The show also has interactive portions where viewers get to take part in games and compete to make high-ticketed purchases at a fraction of the price. Engagement is without a doubt, high on Alibaba’s list to fulfil founder Jack Ma’s global vision to bring Singles’ Day to all corners of the world.

Leading the way for digital innovation in online shopping, Alibaba also went down the VR route this year with the implementation of a virtual reality shopping experience. This new way of shopping ranges from using mobile apps to virtually try on clothing or makeup to connecting a smartphone to a VR headset so you’re transported to brick-and-mortar store. Part of Alibaba’s digital marketing strategy for Singles Day is leveraging on mobile marketing to engage shoppers. China’s number one messenger app, WeChat, allows for users to make purchases and pay for them within the app itself to cut down on transaction time.

There’s no denying that online shopping has grown beyond its transactional value and now offers retailers myriad opportunities to reach and interact with their consumers. Singles Day is a perfect example of how brands can build and rev up their digital marketing strategy around an event and peruse online platforms and technological advancements to grow their business.

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