Make a date for Singles’ Day

This post originally appeared on the Join in China website.

Singles’ Day is coming, and no it’s not an anniversary invented by a PR flack to drum up interest in a dating app. It has everything to do with spending. Spending on a staggering scale. Occurring every year on 11 November, the event is a shopping bonanza bigger than Black Friday and Cyber Monday put together.

Known as “Double 11” in China, Singles’ Day was started in China in 2009 by online retail giant Alibaba, and was based on nationwide celebrations of singledom, hence 11.11 (ones/singles coming together) – and what better remedy than to spend cheaply and wildly on oneself?

In the few years since, the one-day shopping extravaganza has grown considerably. Last year, consumers on Alibaba spent a staggering 168.3 billion yuan (£18.5 billion) while rival JD.com reported sales of 127.1 billion yuan (£14 billion). Altogether that’s a whopping £32.5 billion – equivalent to two Crossrails, or a third of Jeff Bezos.

Singles’ Day is not just a China event. Big British brands participating in recent years have included Dyson, Waitrose, Marks & Spencer, and an awkward-looking David Beckham. Last year, for example, Waitrose saw strong Chinese consumer interest in its mueslis and squeezable honey – which isn’t bad if you consider the struggles faced by Weetabix.

You too can get involved (but keep in mind, amidst the excitement, that Singles’ Day coincides with Armistice Day – a date with more sober connotations).

Fortunately, you don’t need to open an Asia presence. Here are three DIY cross-border options:

  1. Open a Tmall Global storefront. Tmall is a Chinese-language website for B2C online retail operated by Alibaba that features more than 70,000 international and Chinese brands. You will need to open an Alipay account to receive payment, as well as complete paperwork (this can be a fiddle, so speak to us if you need help).
  2. Set yourselves up through the Royal Mail Tmall Store, which has some 400 million registered users. Royal Mail will buy your products at an agreed price which covers logistics, duties, commission fees, translations and product listings. The one-off registration fee is £2,500.
  3. Launch a store on JD Worldwide, JD.com’s platform that is open to brands outside of China. While again there is paperwork involved (speak to us about how to navigate this), setting up a presence will undoubtedly become smoother for UK retailers in the years ahead. In 2018, JD.com pledged its support to British businesses, announcing it will commit to selling £2 billion of goods.

If you’re looking for a tailored solution for your business do talk to us it’s too late for this year but we can make a date for next Singles Day.

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