November 11th became a bizarre and jokey Single’s Day in China in the 1990s, celebrated as a sort of anti-Valentine’s day. But back in 2008, the iconic date – 11/11 – got a new meaning, and a greater urgency, when China’s top e-commerce site, Tmall, decided to turn it into a huge online shopping sales day. It quickly became a new national institution, and now all the country’s e-commerce sites join in the cut-price e-commerce spending spree that’s known as Double Eleven. 2012’s Double Eleven looks set, for the first time ever, to surpass America’s Cyber Monday in terms of sales volume.
Last year’s Cyber Monday in the US, in data from ComScore, saw $1.25 billion in sales, which was up 22 percent from the previous year. But China’s Double Eleven, with discounts of up to 50 percent on many items – is poised to pass that huge stat. 2011’s 24-hour online spending spree in China raked in US$830 million in transactions for just the two largest sites in the country, Alibaba’s Tmall and Taobao – and that figure was up 373 percent from the previous year. Sadly, nationwide stats for all sites are not available.
So – brace yourselves for this – China’s Double Eleven online shopfest tomorrow will not only be bigger than America’s comparable day, but just two Chinese sites will likely beat that $1.25 billion sales figure by themselves.
Shop Till You Drop
Looking at China’s top B2C e-commerce sites, they’ve all put up promotional pages ready for tomorrow (pictured above), and for months beforehand have been stockpiling inventory, hiring extra staff, and making sure that their site is up to the task of being hit by hundreds of millions of shoppers all at once.
The top five B2C shopping sites in the country – Tmall, 360Buy, QQ Buy, Suning, and Amazon China – are all pushing their Double Eleven deals to varying extents. The brick-and-mortar electronics retailer Suning (SHE:002024) is being particularly aggressive – as it has been in general for the past year or two, pushing its business more online – by giving away a small selection of stuff for free; plus, some of its other deals are available for three days, not just the regular 24-hour window.
China’s e-commerce market is also a ferocious area that has seen a few specialist sites fail earlier this year as the major e-tailers consolidate power and market share. It’s also a sector that sees a lot of price wars, so the Double Eleven shopfest is actually one of many chances for consumers to get a discount. Hopefully consumers will be looked after and not exploited tomorrow – we don’t want a re-run of some previous price wars that have seen stock for some items severly limited, leaving e-commerce shoppers feeling angered by an apparent bait-and-switch tactic. After all, sales should not be a blow-out, but a chance to win over new customers.