November 11th marks China’s famous Singles’ Day. Popular with young Chinese, the holiday is like an anti- Valentine’s Day, a time to celebrate single life by buying yourself gifts – and with ecommerce giant Alibaba joining the festivities ten years ago by offering special Single’s Day discounts, it has become the biggest shopping day worldwide.

It’s even bigger than the gigantic U.S. Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping days combined. Last year, Singles’ Day exceeded a global merchandise value of $25.3 billion, compared to $18 billion in 2016. On this one day, Alibaba sold more than people in Holland buy online in a whole year.

This year, Delivered. takes a look at some Singles day shopping features which could soon become a core part of omni-channel retail.

Celebrity Sightings

It’s an annual tradition for Alibaba to run a nationally televised gala to promote the celebrations. In 2016, this featured celebrities such as footballer David Beckham and actors Scarlett Johansson and Nicole Kidman, as well as a lineup of  Victoria’s Secret models, and 2017 had performances from singers  Jessie J and Pharrell Williams as well as appearances by Chinese A-Listers Fan BingBing, Kris Wu and Chris Lee. 

During last year’s show, various features on Alibaba’s Tmall app gave viewers opportunities to interact with the gala by shaking their phones and winning prizes, and voting on whether sports celebs would succeed at completing on-stage challenges.

Forbes reported that the show gained an audience of 400 million, - that’s three times double the number of those who watched the Super Bowl. This year’s attendees are yet to be announced, but you can expect an interesting show.


Robots to the fore

Singles Day shoppers buy items of every category – clothes, home appliances, electronics and even cars. To manage the high volume of orders, Alibaba opened its first automated, robot-managed warehouse, where over 700 robots will process an expected one billion shipments.


Although the majority of purchases are made online, Singles Day is not only an ecommerce event. Last year, 100,000 stores became ‘smart stores’, featuring new and innovative technology, making the brick-and-mortar retail experience much more immersive.


This year, AlipayHK will be showcasing a new concept - a 4,000-square-foot unmanned store in Sino Group's Olympian City mall, featuring two new technologies to make the purchasing journey as efficient as possible. The first is a ‘Smile Recognition Technology’, which generates a QR code for ever customer based upon their facial expression. The shopper’s e-wallet then scans this QR code, so when they place their selected products onto the checkout desk, the ‘Radio Frequency Identification System’ can then scan the products and generate the bill with another QR code. Shoppers then scan this in their smartphones to complete the effortless cashless payment.  Giorgia Rose

Published: November 2018

Images: iStock