November is almost over meaning that the rush of Singles Day in China and Black Friday in most other markets is now over. Retailers can turn their attention to customers buying gifts for the holiday season and the New Year sales. But how was Singles Day 2018?
The description given by Forbes magazine gives a pretty good idea, they called Black Friday a ‘rounding error’ compared to Singles Day. When you look at the numbers it is easy to see why, but it is important to remember that Singles Day is still largely a China-focused event and yet the sales figures outstrip anything taking place in the US or other markets.
Black Friday in the US featured total sales of about $5.9bn on Black Friday itself and $7.9bn on Cyber Monday, where the focus is on discounted electronic goods. Amazon takes about half of all that US business – it looks pretty good for one or two days of trading. However, Alibaba.com processed $30.8bn of transactions just on November 11 alone. Singles Day really is focused on a single day, rather than Black Friday spreading across a weekend and yet the numbers are still much higher.
Last year Alibaba processed $25.3bn of sales on Singles Day, so the previous record was truly smashed, but what I found really interesting was just how fast shoppers were buying this year. The first billion dollars of sales on Singles Day 2018 took just 85 seconds.
Companies such as Alibaba are also paying more attention to the data they are generating with all these sales. Their research into Artificial Intelligence (AI) is really starting to look world-class as they develop the ability to help shoppers find better – and more – products
This is where the change will take place for Singles Day 2019. The focus on sales volumes and how fast sales are growing is usually what journalists report, but I think there is an interesting hidden story about how sales are becoming more sophisticated too. AI is helping brands to make more intelligent decisions when advising customers on what they need and Alibaba is enabling many of their sub-brands to host sales that are connected to the main Singles Day event, but managed separately.
I believe that when we are exploring the possibilities for Singles Day 2019, these will be the main talking points. It’s not just going to be a bigger event in 2019, but there will be many more brands using technology to understand their customers more completely.
Let me know about your experience of Singles Day 2018 here by leaving a comment or get in touch directly via my LinkedIn.