What is Singles Day? The world’s biggest online shopping day

Singles Day: the biggest online shopping day on the planet

Founded by students in the 90's, Singles Day is now one of the most lucrative online shopping days in the world. Here's what you need to know about the event.


Cyber Monday and Black Friday’s sales combined are nothing compared to what was achieved in China in  November 2020: $74billion of online sales in just a matter of days.The world’s biggest online shopping marathon of the year doesn’t take place on any Western marketplace. It’s held by Alibaba, China’s global e-commerce giant and it’s called Singles’ Day or 11:11. 

What is Singles’ Day?

Founded by college students in the 90’s as an antidote to the exclusively couples Valentine’s day, it’s grown into an excuse to treat yourself, friends and family.

In 2009, Alibaba spotted the commercial opportunity in 11:11 and started launching “Double 11 deals”. The rest, as they say, is history with 250,000 brands taking part in 2020, cashing in on Singles’ Day discounts.  

When is Singles’ Day?

Singles day is also called 11:11 because it was held on the 11th November every year. Now it’s a shopping event that runs over a few weeks in November. It’s getting bigger each year so start planning for it in your sales and marketing calendar now. 

The opportunity for your business

800 million consumers participated in Singles’ Day 2020 making it a fantastic opportunity to reach the Chinese market via marketplaces like Alibaba and Tmall.  

11:11 provides probably the biggest opportunity to connect China with the world. Alibaba has extended the event from a one-day sale into a three-week extended sales period to give brands and SMEs more exposures and opportunities to reach consumers. As China looks to be closer to the tail end of the coronavirus pandemic, 11:11 is expected to be a major growth driver for merchants.

Covid-19 and travel restrictions have driven the growing affluent urban Chinese power-spenders to online platforms for their overseas purchases. With more immersive experiences and opportunities to showcase products in personalised settings, there’s also the chance to capitalise on the fresh energy of this shopping event. Unlike Black Friday, which in the UK has become synonymous with undignified scrambles for products, 50% off discounts, and returned goods, Singles’ Day in China is marketed as a more upmarket, interactive experience for the tech-savvy consumer.

Jason Kaye
Experience: 10 years writing within the e-commerce, finance and tech landscapes

In the 90’s, it was launched to rival Valentine’s Day. In 2020, 800M consumers took part. Here’s what Singles Day is all about.

Nov / 2022
Learn More

Here’s how to take the business stresses out of the most wonderful time of year.

Nov / 2022
Learn More

They help sellers hone products and improve businesses, but can a review really sway a shopper who’s ready to spend?

Jun / 2022
Learn More

You might also like

WorldFirst articles cover strategies to mitigate risk, the latest FX insights, steps towards global expansion and key industry trends. Choose a category, product or service below to find out more.

Businesses trust WorldFirst

Since 2004, more than 240K businesses have utilised WorldFirst to send more than £87bn around the world.

Map of the world

What our customers say