Prove your humanity

China’s Singles Day (光棍节 | guāng gùn jié in Chinese) — aka “双十一” (“11.11” or “Double Eleven” in Chinese) — shopping carnival of crazy refers to the nation’s annual 11 November online promo fiesta which stems from the first online discount disco held on 11 November, 2009, by Tmall (Alibaba).

Almost one decade ago to this day, the number of participating businesses and promotion efforts were limited, but turnover exceeded the expected effects, leading the date to become a fixture on China’s e-consumer agendas.

Tmall’s “11.11 — 50 percent discount across the board” 2010 stunt set a sales record of a cool 1 billion RMB per day. Just casually throwing around some start-up figures here. 

Alibaba on 11.11.18 raked in a record 31 billion USD. Promo perks only, you say? Singles Day it may very well be, but Temper double-dares you.

The Double Eleven Data

Double Eleven has become an annual event in China’s e-commerce industry and has gone on to gradually affect the international e-commerce industry. A quick data breakdown brought to you by Tech Huanqiu:

  • Alibaba’s Double Eleven trading volume on November 11, 2014, stood at a total of 57.1 billion RMB;
  • Tmall’s Double Eleven trading volume on November 11, 2015, came to 91.217 billion RMB;
  • Tmall’s Double Eleven trading volume at midnight on November 11, 2016, exceeded 120.7 billion RMB;
  • The total turnover of “Double Eleven” across Tmall and Taobao in 2017 rose to 168.2 billion RMB;
  • The 2018 Double Eleven Shopping Carnival saw the Alibaba Tmall Double Eleven Global Promo transaction volume exceed the 10 billion RMB limit in the first 2 minutes and 5 seconds of opening its “doors”;
  • Not too shoppingly shabby.


Disclaimer: Both Tmall and Taobao belong to the Alibaba group. Taobao is a C2C online shop with around 8 million personal sellers conducting their independent businesses on the platform, whereas Tmall falls into the B2C website category with thousands of better-known brands selling their products or services to customers.

Taobao Ad

Taobao Singles’ Day Advertising

Every Singles’ Day Proves A Double Dare

The Double Eleven sales volume in 2009 was RMB 0.5 billion, with a total of 27 brands participating in the non-madness. Sales volume in 2010 halted around a cool 936 million yuan, with a total of 711 stores participating. TMall’s “Double Eleven 50 percent discount across the board” stunt that very same year set a sales record of 1 billion yuan per day. Just casually throwing around start-up figures here.

Like the sands through the hourglass, so are the 24 hours of Double Eleven. Online shopping orders surge instantly and the actual delivery dessert link following the main menu order has become the focus of many an online buyer. Tmall, Jingdong, Yixun, and other domestic e-commerce websites compete for delivery speed and promise the fastest and swiftest delivery services of them all, including vows of “Same Day” and “Three Day” door-to-door benefits for all your online shopping purchases. Nevertheless… With bated breath, do not await.

A large number of couriers every year resign to avoid the Double Eleven rush hours or peaks. As the shopping spree creeps up, many couriers opt to quit their jobs to avoid this “festive” period or simply make a switch in career path altogether. Whilst frequent promotions may make the number of express deliveries go up, the prices of e-commerce express mail are headed all the way down as is the volume of goods, prompting courier incomes to become less and deliveries more complicated.

Ma Yun, CEO of the Alibaba Group, believes Double Eleven to be a signal of China’s economic transformation, as well as a battle between the new marketing model and the traditional marketing model.
The threshold of China’s express delivery industry is low and the mobility of personnel is already pretty much up there. They’re racing against the clock on a triple dare, so to speak. Keeping their eye on the price,  express delivery companies nowadays conjure/ offer up long-term plans for recruitment and the delivery service niche is becoming increasingly competitive. And let’s face it… In (China) life, one must never be on the bad side of an airhost(ess), an ayi or a courier. A little slice of custom made Temper advice.

Virtual highs and delivery lows, thus is the life of the 11.11 e-commerce blowout.

China's Singles' Day -- 11.11 Image via Macau Business

China’s Singles’ Day — 11.11 Image via Macau Business

The Downsides To E-Commerce Demands

Double Eleven has in the past nine years of its Tasmanian Devil existence spawned multiple evils: On the one hand, the impulsive consumption of the online buyer crowd is further stimulated and amplified. On the other hand, the consumer trust extended to the e-commerce website has become exaggerated, if you will, and thus has caused problems such as overwhelming the express delivery industry as well as the excessive use of packaging — in turn resulting in environmental protection and waste.

Against the backdrop of the current downward pressure on the economy, the surge in passenger traffic and the extremely large single-day (yes, single-day) trading volume of the “Double Eleven” carnival of crazy represent the strong willingness and high consumption power of the people, undoubtedly stimulating domestic demand. This is a positive sign of society.

The blowing up of China’s e-commerce demand, then, reveals the huge potential of online consumption in China and is the personification of the confrontation between traditional retail formats and new retail formats. Ma Yun, CEO of the Alibaba Group, believes Double Eleven to be a signal of China’s economic transformation, as well as a representation of the ongoing battle between the new marketing model and the traditional marketing model.

China’s online retail business and trading format has been transformed from that of a previously complementary channel into the mainstream channel for China’s domestic retail demand.
Double Eleven or Singles Day has seen Alibaba employ the latest in retail technology on an advanced and wide-scale — thank you, Tech Crunch; in 2017, the company ventured into Augmented Reality (AR) when Maybelline let customers try on its lipstick virtually and Nike was among the brands to use gamification to attract customers.

Alibaba’s very own Tmall service even adopted “virtual fitting rooms” to help sell fashion. Yet…

The Double Eleven consumption boom cannot remain inside the colossal digital bubble that has been growing bigger year after year for nearly a decade now.

In the pursuit of long-term development and mutual benefit, both businesses and consumers must rely more on their real-life rational instincts instead of the AR ones.

As they say: Reality bites. Or, rather, “bytes”. 

























Featured Image: online
Elsbeth van Paridon
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