Black Friday on SteroidsWhat started 26 years ago as a day celebrated by university students without significant others has sinceturned into the biggest shopping day annually in China and around the world. Last year, 11/11, also known as Singles’ Day, generated $30.2 billion in sales across Alibaba’s various platforms in one day alone. 

That number was a 27 per cent increase in sales over 2017, a year which saw a 39 per cent increase over the year before that. 

Singles’ Day 2019 is poised to break its own previous records. One Chinese publication reported that Alibaba is vying to attract 500 million customers from around the world in 2019. For context, the population of the entire European Union is 512 million.  

On top of working to expand their user base, platforms like Taobao and Tmall will add new brands and products to increase sales in an effort to continue making 11/11 the most lucrative shopping day on planet Earth. 

When WPIC CEO Jacob Cooke was asked if he thought this year would see the biggest 11/11 ever during a recent episode of The Negotiation podcast, he foreshadowed the company’s determination to ensure the 2019 shopping bonanza’s success: 

“There’s no doubt about it. I’m pretty sure [Alibaba] will do whatever it takes to make sure that’s true.” 

But the company isn’t just focussed on jamming everything into one 24-hour period anymore. In an effort to spread out the rush of online traffic created by 11/11, Alibaba Group has begun kicking off the celebrations at the end of October or early November. Some e-commerce experts think this step will help alleviate some of the logistical difficulties that companies experience on Singles Day. 

“It’s a lot better than [it all] happening in 24 hours, which, logistically, is pretty hard to run,” added Cooke. “I think that’s going to happen consistently now: it’s going to start that pre-sale on the first of the month and continue over the next eleven days.” 

Pretty hard to run is putting it mildly. Almost a billion parcels were packed and shipped last year. If that wasn’t challenging enough, the nearly 200,000 brands participating in 11/11 also need to reckon with millions of returns they will receive (as is standard in any retail environment). Moreover, each of the delivery, return and payment processes all need to run smoothly to meet Chinese consumers expectations.

For brands that want to participate in Singles’ Day, on top of the transactional and logistical considerations, having the appropriate level of inventory is a must. 

Logistics and inventory can be challenging under normal circumstances, but on a day referred to by Business Insider as “Black Friday on steroids”, it holds even greater importance. For brands trying to make a dent in the Chinese e-commerce market, having items run out of stock is simply unacceptable and won’t be soon forgotten by Chinese customers.

In order to avoid or mitigate these challenges, it’s important to plan well in advance – usually by mid-August. By then, your brand should have decided its strategy pertaining to:

  • What specific SKUs to sell
  • When, which and by how much to discount certain items
  • Best projections of inventory 

For companies who are serious about entering into China’s trillion-dollar USD e-commerce market, making your presence felt on Singles’ Day is absolutely mandatory. Doing so won’t be easy, but Jacob Cooke has some sage advice for companies looking to make the leap:

“You’ve got to make sure that your decisions for the market are based on real, accurate and up to date information. And potentially dynamic information that’s changing very fast over time.” 

Listen to the entire episode to hear more about Jacob’s advice for brands looking to take advantage of the world’s biggest consumer holiday. 

And if your organization is serious about making a play in the Chinese e-commerce market, contact info@