Singles’ Day: a guide for e-commerce retailers [2023]

Singles’ Day: a guide for e-commerce retailers [2023]

Singles’ Day, held on 11 November every year, is the biggest shopping event in the world. Here’s everything you need to know to get your e-commerce site ready for it.


Despite being the world’s largest shopping event, Singles’ Day is still relatively unknown outside of China. Many countries across the world know about Black Friday and Cyber Monday (BFCM), but while Singles’ Day is celebrated in only a few countries, it generates more revenue than Black Friday and Cyber Monday combined.

Let’s look at what Singles’ Day is, when it takes place, how it differs from BFCM, and why online sellers should consider participating in this lucrative shopping event.

What is Singles’ Day?

Singles’ Day is an online shopping festival that originated in China and lands on November 11 each year. Dubbed as ‘Anti Valentine’s Day’, and often known as Double 11 because of the date, the event was created to celebrate single people and to treat themselves as they are – a counter message to the many other holidays year round dedicated to couples and families.

Originally started by four friends at university, Alibaba Group founder Jack Ma took the holiday to retail and launched a huge shopping event that sees masses of huge discounts and offers. Today, its sales trumps Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Amazon Prime Day combined.

Singles’ Day sales vs Black Friday vs Prime Day

Here’s how the biggest e-commerce shopping festivals fared in 2021 sales.

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How is Singles’ Day different to Black Friday and Cyber Monday?

While the most obvious difference between Singles Day and BFCM is the date, there are many others to keep in mind.

Singles’ Day strategy and experience

Singles’ Day marketing veers away from the traditional campaigns often seen in BFCM events, using instead a mobile-led approach and gamified experiences for Chinese consumers. It also often involves ‘shoppingtainment’ with national television in China putting on big celebrity-filled shows with stars making appearances and performing throughout the day, making it a real shopping festival.

Where Singles’ Day is celebrated

Being an Alibaba flagship shopping event, Singles Day was originally only available in China. However, big marketing efforts over the last few years have seen it extend to more of Southeast Asia and slowly, countries in Europe and the US are starting to mark it as a major shopping event in their calendar too.

Singles’ Day platforms and brands

Singles’ Day is mostly celebrated on Alibaba and its affiliate sites, Taobao and Tmall – which means that it’s mainly China-based brands and businesses that mark the day with big discounts. Taobao, the consumer-to-consumer platform, is a big driver in sales and has over 200,000 brands with deals and offers.

So far, many big Western brands haven’t been involved but a few, such as Bulgari, Dyson and Moncler, did take part last year. So we’re expecting to see more international brands celebrate Singles’ Day this year and beyond.

Singles’ Day statistics to know for 2023

Here’s a round-up of the impressive numbers around Singles’ Day to give you an idea of its impact and why online retailers should be involved.

  • An estimated 527 million shoppers on Taobao and 576 milliion on Pinduoduo took part in 2022
  • Singles’ Day sales in 2022 was estimated to be 934b yuan or $128b
  • 290,000 brands participated on Alibaba’s platforms in 2022
  • Over 80 million products will be on offer on Alibaba’s platforms in 2023

How should online retailers prepare for Singles’ Day 2023?

There’s a huge opportunity for online retailers to boost sales growth with Singles’ Day as it sees far bigger revenue than Black Friday and Cyber Monday combined. But, while it’s in the same month as BFCM, your approach and strategy for China’s biggest shopping day need to be entirely differentiated to keep it in line with the Singles ‘Day ethos.

1.   Target your single audience

Remember, this is an event in celebration of singledom, meaning that images of couples and families aren’t suitable here. Instead, all photos, language and general sentiment should reflect happy, single people and their lives as they are now.

2.   Offer products for single people

Singles’ Day is about the single person, so put the best products on offer that acknowledge and recognise their status and life. Items for large families, like a big camping tent for example, aren’t often used by a single person and therefore aren’t relevant for this event.

It’s also important to consider and put forward the products that encourage self-love and care. While functional items are appreciated, make sure to include some treats like fashion, beauty products and special events to leave single customers feeling pampered and nurtured.

For instance, in 2022, Alibaba stated that sales of high-tech beauty devices, such as gadgets to cool and lift facial skin, had surged 5,570% from the previous year.

3.   Get creative and interactive

While you may not have the budget for avatars and virtual influencers, getting creative in your marketing strategy is key to success for this event. Chinese customers expect an element of gamification and interaction as they find and explore your store and products, so try to include this where you can without breaking the bank.

Adding media like short product reels created on TikTok or Instagram are a great and easy way to include more interactive videos to your website and store. Other features you could add are virtual games widgets, competitions and challenges that encourage customer interaction with your brand.

4.   Ensure your store is mobile-first and optimised

Being an e-commerce event from the start, Singles’ Day has always been about buying online. As more shoppers are using mobile devices during Singles’ Day, it’s key that your website and marketplace is optimised for mobile use. In 2021, around 828 million consumers were shopping on their mobile devices on Singles’ Day – that’s more than the population of Europe!

This means a smooth and seamless user experience from the moment a customer virtually enters your store right through to the checkout process. With a lot of competition and sales to be made, you want to make the customer experience and their decision as easy and straightforward as possible.

Also, as Singles’ Day is China’s largest shopping festival with over 500 million users on a single platform, it’s crucial that your store and payment functionality is set up to manage large transaction volumes for the day.

5.   Acknowledge the Asian market and culture

Singles’ Day, while growing internationally, still mainly caters to the Asian market and it’s here that many businesses can find their global audience. However, finding an Asian audience is one thing – but keeping it is another.

Show that your business is respectful of and embraces the culture through small adaptations, such as social media livestreams of your launch on Singles’ Day, and using lucky numbers or multiples of 11 in your discount codes and Singles’ Day marketing.

Singles’ Day in a nutshell

Singles’ Day originated in China and has gained huge popularity there and in the rest of Asia. The trends are showing that it’s also gaining momentum in Europe and the US now.

Taking part in the event can not only boost your revenue and profits, but will enable you to reach an entirely new audience and go truly global.

Key things to remember for Singles’ Day:

  • The marketing strategy is entirely different to BFCM
  • The focus of the shopping festival is a celebration of being single and proud, and encouraging plenty of self-love
  • With the majority of consumers being Chinese, small changes in your business and marketing should show how you embrace their culture and traditions

Get Singles’ Day started with WorldFirst

While you may not have heard of Singles’ Day or considered it for your business, remember that this huge shopping festival is an excellent opportunity for merchants with international mindsets and global goals.

As experts in e-commerce, we help small and medium-sized businesses that import, export or collect from market places. With the World Account, you can open 10+ local accounts and receive international payments from your manufacturers like a local with all the benefits – fast payments, no currency exchange and no hidden costs.

Hold or convert your money, or pay your invoices when you’re ready in 40+ currencies, securely and fast. If you’re importing from China, pay your Chinese suppliers with same or next day payments in their preferred currency, USD, CNH or HKD. You can also lock in an exchange rate for future invoices by fixing up to 24 months to help plan for future Singles’ Day events with your suppliers.

Explore how you can get the best from your World Account to support your Singles’ Day promotions.

Catherine Mah
11 years in content creation and content marketing across finance & sustainability

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