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Alibaba’s Singles’ Day Fosters Commitment Issues

Singles in China can save the date, but they won’t need a plus one for this celebration. November 11, 2015, marks the 6th annual promotion of Singles’ Day in China. In 2009, Alibaba started the November 11 celebration of singletons in China. The proliferation of e-shoppers in the Asia-Pacific has gained the attention of the whole e-commerce market, especially JD.com.

Singles’ Day might stir up commitment issues for some merchants. Online retail traffic is expected to reach chart-topping numbers this year. JD.com is devising their own promotions to attract shoppers with a wandering eye and Alibaba is not keen on merchants offering deals on e-commerce sites during promotional activity. The romance of monogamy is looking bleak for Alibaba and estranged merchants as JD.com has officially requested an investigation into the Alibaba Group Holding concerning a State Administration for Industry and Commerce (SAIC) regulation.

Jim Wilkinson, Senior Vice President of International Corporate Affairs for Alibaba Group, told CNBC, "JD is panicking because Alibaba wins with customers and merchants because we provide a superior experience for users on our platforms."

The regulation in question prohibits e-commerce platforms from limiting or barring merchants from participating in promotions on other platforms and went into effect on October 1, 2015.

Huge promotional discounts from top brands are expected to circulate both Alibaba and JD.com’s websites this holiday season. Since consumers have no reason to give allegiance to one e-commerce site over another, shoppers have a key advantage and can easily play the field and score discounts on the sites offering a bigger, better deal.

The results of a new AdMaster survey revealed that e-shoppers have been drawn to Singles’ Day to a significant degree. Of the 1,468 people surveyed, 84% plan to indulge in the celebratory e-commerce spending spree. The highest average spending demographic was aged between 26–35, with $343.00 per person.

Consumers are showing signs of advanced preparation:

  • 26% begin screening products two weeks earlier
  • About 30% start perusing products before three weeks or more

Rather than run the risk of feeling FoMO (fear of missing out), pre-ordering is proving to be a favorable solution, 56% of consumers plan to preorder this Singles’ Day. There is a twofold benefit to preordering; consumers can rest assured that they have secured their products and sellers can plan their delivery logistics accordingly.

Mobile is taking precedence and it’s not difficult to understand why. The extension of e-commerce to m-commerce has enabled consumers to browse and buy on the fly. About 84% of respondents preferred to use a mobile device for their Singles’ Day shopping. Topping the charts in payment methods was Alipay with 87% of respondents, online banking was second with 35% and WeChat Pay came in third.

Multichannel marketing and branding continuity are going to play an integral role in stimulating a positive shopping experience. Money spent with competitors could pose a threat and would be tantamount to watching customers walk out of the door. Engaging and reengaging via cross-screen promotional campaigns will keep interested sites top of mind. The cost of recapturing lost customers during a highly competitive shopping season is consideration marketers will need to strategically plan for.

For those living the single life, the holidays can appear to be a lonely time of the year. While couples are busy spending time and money purchasing everything on their family’s wish list. Singles can look forward to spending that alone time online. While money can’t buy love or happiness, singles can replace their empty hearts with an online shopping cart full of discounted goods.


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