by Michael O'Neill
November 12th, 2013

China Single’s Day (November 11) used to be just like any other day, but thanks to a few influential e-commerce sites (mainly Alibaba’s Tmall), November 11 in China is now equivalent to Cyber Monday in the US. There is, however, one big difference…scale.

On Cyber Monday in 2012, US$1.5 billion worth of sales took place across US e-commerce sites. In comparison, just 13 hours into November 11, Tmall had clocked in $3.1billion. In the first hour of Single’s Day, Tmall had cashed in $110 million in sales, based on 25 million transactions.

Bloomberg predicted that Tmall’s one-day-sale’s revenue would reach $4.5billion,  with an average individual purchase close to $300. However, based on the figures Tmall released on Weibo on November 12, its revenue reached $5.8 billion. Brands have rushed to take advantage of this one day shopping spree, and the Single’s Day story dominated social media platforms Weibo and Weixin.

A few days earlier, Alibaba’s Jack Ma met with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, with Li praising Ma for creating jobs and bringing hope to millions of entrepreneurs. Li even said he was moved to receive a note from an online shop in the middle of the night telling him his order was on the way. Shopping is now a national topic with macro-economic importance.

While I was in the US, there were lots of holidays that I thought “Hallmark” invented. Yet in China, no one sends cards anymore, we send gifts. And with so many singles now in China, this way of “group-hugging” is not only fun but is also driving the economy. It is predicted that China will overtake the US as world largest e-commerce market by 2015. I think if Jack Ma creates another shopping day-excuse, we might just reach the goal next year.

November 11 now has its own catch: “Have you purchased anything today?” Now let’s see how the courier systems handles this massive spree.

Lydia Lee, is senior vice-president, China, at Weber Shandwick

This article first appeared on the Weber Shandwick Technology Practice blog

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