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Everything you need to know about China Singles’ Day

22 August 2016 - Gareth Goodridge, Digital Marketing Director, Worldpay
A bit of background

Held on 11th November every year, China Singles’ Day started as an in-joke between Chinese university students, about their lack of significant others.  In 2009, online retail firm Alibaba, adopted the day to promote an online shopping sale.  Today, it’s the biggest eCommerce event of the year – overshadowing the sales of Black Friday and Cyber Monday combined.

Figures from our Analytics Team back-up this growth.  Last year, we processed over 1,100 payments per second at its peak.  On average we processed 9,000 transactions per minute globally – which was an increase of 146% on the previous year.  And the value of Singles’ Day transactions rose by a staggering 320% on 2014.

Although the event was initially set up to celebrate being single, today, 60% of Chinese consumers buying on Singles’ Day are married – with only 25% being single.  

But what are people buying?  Last year, the most popular categories were: clothing and accessories, cosmetics and personal care, household products, appliances and food and beverages.

China singles day graph

Some of the figures from 2015

  • Sales reached 91.2bn Yuan (US$14.3bn) – an increase of 60% on 2014.
  • Over $1.4bn was spent within the first 8 minutes.
  • Throughout the day, on average, 120,000 orders were placed every minute.
  • 40,000 merchants took part.
  • Over 500 million packages were shipped as a result of China Singles’ Day
  • 180,000 bricks-and-mortar stores took part across 330 cities.
  • Over 42% of sales came from mobile.

Is it just for the Chinese?

Definitely not! It’s predicted to get bigger & it’s going global! Alibaba founder, Jack Ma, told CNBC that he expects China Singles’ Day to become a global holiday in the next 5 years.  And there are already moves to bring the event to the US through Chinese-American eCommerce site, Dealmoon. 

More and more international retailers are already seeing the opportunity China Singles’ Day presents. Last year, over 200 overseas merchants, from 20 countries took part.

And China’s eCommerce consumers are already used to buying from abroad.  Cross-border eCommerce is big business – accounting for 6% of the country’s eCommerce sales in 2015 – and expected to grow by 67% this year to $67bn.

China singles day graph

So, what should you know….

Although the event is on 11th November, some sellers start listing Singles’ Day prices in mid October.  They take deposits and then ship the goods on the day itself.  So – it’s never too early to get involved.  

China is a huge opportunity. Internet penetration might be low (46%), but China is now the world’s biggest eCommerce market: predicted to be worth a staggering US$574bn by 2019. 

And people like to shop, with our research into 'Why Do They Pay That Way?'  highlighting that 54% of online shoppers purchase on a weekly basis.  

The most popular payment method amongst Chinese online shoppers is eWallets at, 58%.  Traditional credit and debit cards have a relatively low share – at 20%, however new card schemes, from the likes of UnionPay are gaining in popularity and are therefore expected to increase market share by 10% over the next few years. 

mCommerce is also growing in popularity, particularly amongst younger shoppers.  According to our research, 53% of 18-24s now chose mobile not just to browse, but to purchase too.  

So, if you’ve decided you want to target Chinese consumers during China Singles’ Day, how do you reach them?  Find out in our follow-up blog ‘Marketing in China’ next week.

And, if you’d like to find out more about accessing the Chinese eCommerce market, our team of experts, based in Shanghai, can help.