6 Highlights in Singles Day 2020


How did the festival this year fare in relation to last year?

November 2020

Singles Day, the world’s largest online shopping extravaganza and key e-commerce growth engine, ended yesterday. The statistics are staggering: Alibaba’s sales reportedly surpassed $74.1 billion, nearly double the sales from last year’s record ($38 billion). Competing platform JD.com also reported cumulative sales of $41 billion, representing 33% growth over last year.

Source: China News’ and JD.com’s official Weibo account

This year, with the unprecedented challenges, resulted from Covid-19, brands and retailers are eager to make up their lost sales with this online shopping event. Leading e-commerce players such as Taobao/Tmall and JD.com leveraged different approaches during this festival to help brands and retailers regain growth. Let’s check out some highlights of Singles Day 2020 in a Covid-19 world:

  • “Double” sales period

The pre-sale period started on October 21st, with an additional sales window from November 1st to 3rd, ahead of the typical 24-hour festival. According to Alibaba, this additional sales window was designed to spotlight new brands, new products, and global exclusive items, creating extra growth for the event. Some brands achieved impressive results in this initial sales window: more than 100 brands, including L’Oréal, Estée Lauder, Nike, achieved GMV sales of over 100 million RMB in the first 111 minutes. Similarly, its rival JD.com planned a four-stage promotion from October 21st to November 11th and reported a sales growth of 90% YoY on November 1st.

  • Live-streaming reached a new height this year

Live-streaming is taking the center stage in this year’s shopping spree. Roughly half of the brands in Alibaba used live streaming to promote their products during Singles Day. For many brands, it is a powerful method to empower their business, particularly in driving a higher conversion rate. For example, L’Oréal managed to boost its sales over 7 times compared to its last year’s Singles Day performance. Some brands collaborated with the two top live-streaming broadcasters Li Jiaqi and Viya, who combined to draw more than 300 million views and ended up generating over 7 billion RMB worth of GMV only during the first day of the pre-sale period.

Source: Ashley Galina Dudarenok

In addition, a substantial number of company executives and celebrities also held individual live-streaming sessions on different e-commerce platforms.

Source (from left to right): JD.com and Tmall

Taobao live hosted sessions across different categories, ranging from cosmetics, electronics, cars, and houses. AI/AR technology was also featured in the live-streaming session.

Source: Taobao

  • Special luxury brand schemes 

Luxury brands were also tempted by this shopping festival and implemented innovative approaches to gain more market share in the overcrowded battleground. One prominent example was Dior, which launched its exclusive Singles Day collection on its official WeChat boutique and website on October 15th.

Source: Dior’s WeChat official OA

This limited series launch was not only the brand’s first Singles Day’s initiative but also the first special led by an upmarket luxury brand for this large shopping event. Besides, premium luxury brands such as Piaget and Prada offered an interest-free installment payment plan to attract more customers.  

Source (from left to right): Prada’s and Piaget’s official e-commerce store in Taobao

  • Alibaba ecosystem all-in

This year, Alibaba offered the most comprehensive selection of products and services up to date. Apart from Tmall/Taobao, other business units within its digital ecosystem including Fliggy, Hema, etc,  also participated in this shopping event. Alipay first opened up its platform, enabling offline merchants to join in the event and generate greater traffic through exclusive discounts.

Source (from left to right): Hema, Alipay, and Fliggy

  • The largest international presence to date

Due to ongoing travel restrictions, Chinese consumers, who normally purchase products overseas, turned to online platforms. To meet their demands for international products, Alibaba ramped up their efforts in expanding its cross-border e-commerce business. Tmall Global brought over 2,600 new abroad brands this year, and Kaola, which joined the event for the first time, also offered products from 89 countries and regions, with attractive discounts for VIP customers.

Source: Kaola’s Weibo official account

  • More players joined the battle

Singles Day had historically been dominated by Tmall/Taobao and JD.com. However, this year, video apps such as Douyin and Kuaishou, in addition to WeChat Mini-program, also pivoted to this battleground. Both Douyin and Kuaishou partnered with celebrities and KOLs. They launched a series of live-streaming sessions to promote and convert their massive traffic into sales.

Source (from left to right):Douyin and Kuaishou 

Moreover, WeChat created a dedicated mini-program for brands to show their products and discount information, driving the traffic towards the brand’s own channels.

Source: Estée Lauder’s WeChat MP

The breaking sales record indicates a robust economic recovery and consumption rebound in China under the pandemic. One trend that is definitely here to stay: live-streaming. Live streaming functioned as a significant sales driver during the festival; brands conducted sessions with KOLs, celebrities, or industry professionals to get more exposure and drive up their sales. And last question: for how much longer will Alibaba be able to break its own sales records?

Source:JD.com, McKinsey & Company, Tmall



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