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Inside Singles’ Day: The World’s Largest Online Shopping Day

Find out how Singles’ Day became a cultural phenomenon and the biggest global online shopping event in history. By Catie Grasso October 9, 2019
Inside Singles’ Day: The World’s Largest Online Shopping Day

What Is Singles’ Day?

Did you know that there is a 24-hour online shopping event that far outpaces Amazon’s highly anticipated Prime Day? Singles’ Day, which has surpassed the transaction volume of both Black Friday and Cyber Monday e-commerce sales combined, is China’s most lucrative shopping holiday when looking at gross merchandise volume (GMV). In 2018, Singles’ Day generated more than $30 billion within 24 hours, representative of a 27% year-over-year increase from 2017.

The holiday, which takes place every year on Nov. 11, is the single-largest day of commerce in the world. In 1993, it is said that a group of male students at Nanjing University in China decided that they would celebrate, instead of mourn, being single. Cemented in 2009 by Alibaba CEO Jack Ma, Singles’ Day became a shopping holiday that — as its name implies — celebrates being romantically unattached and putting oneself first. With the backing of Alibaba, Singles’ Day has been able to scale from a local to a national holiday, adding more global brands and steeper discounts each year.

Similar to what Amazon does during the lead-up to Prime Day, Alibaba has featured celebrities such as Scarlett Johansson, David Beckham, Mariah Carey, Kobe Bryant, and band One Republic to increase awareness for the holiday and help promote sales.

It has also added live streaming to its various sites, experimented with virtual reality services that let consumers purchase from places such as Macy’s in New York, and aimed to generate international press and attention. This year, Alibaba has plans to broadcast its “11.11 Countdown Gala Celebration” on 10 cable networks across China, Southeast Asia, Africa, and North America.

Catie Grasso
About the Author

Catie Grasso is a content manager at Feedvisor where she oversees and executes on the company's content strategy. She enjoys running, trying new restaurants, and traveling.

Singles’ Day Fast Facts

  • Number of merchants that participated in the first Singles’ Day in 2008: 27
  • Number of brands that participated in 2018: 180,000
  • Number of consumers who participated in 2018: 600 million
  • Number of transactions per second during Singles’ Day 2017: 256,000
  • Delivery vehicles used: 200,000
  • The time it took for GMV to surpass $1 billion in 2018: One minute and 25 seconds
  • The time it took for GMV to surpass $10 billion in 2018: One hour and 48 seconds
  • Anticipated deliveries for 2019: Nearly 2 billion
  • Cities where Singles’ Day is tremendously popular: Hong Kong, Beijing, Shanghai

Final Thoughts

As a brand or retailer on Amazon, having visibility into other major global shopping holidays is important — it will help you keep a pulse on the greater e-commerce industry, understand various consumer trends you witness, and apply them to your own operation. According to National Today, 78% of Americans who are aware of Singles’ Day plan to participate in the holiday this year. 

Although Singles’ Day scaling so rapidly has a lot to do with Alibaba’s role, other Chinese e-commerce retailers have established a stake in the game. Given that some brands have seen up to two months of sales in China over the course of 24 hours on Singles’ Day in the past, selling in China might be an opportunity worth pursuing if you have already established a sound business domestically.

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