Now, in UK this date is a sober one, it marks Remembrance Day, which in turn marks the efforts of British soldiers fighting during the Firs World War.
In China though, this date means something entirely different altogether.
For about the last 10 years, 11th of November in China has been known as Singles Day. With Valentine’s Day becoming huge in the Middle Kingdom, and a massive source of revenue for many businesses. Enterprises sniffed out a good niche among the single citizens and introduced this holiday dedicated to those without a partner, who sick of watching lovey-dovey couples, prefer to stay home and do their shopping online. Whoever started it, must have had a great light-bulb moment, that’s for sure!
More recently though, this day has turned into an online shopping frenzy. Various websites, with Taobao and TMall as the two major offenders, vigorously entice customers weeks ahead to shop with them by offering huge discounts, free delivery on all items and a multitude of special offers. Now let me tell you, Chinese people love a discount as much as anyone else, perhaps even more so wasn’t long before offers for singletons turned into offers for all. Westerners can’t even fathom to imagine the sheer scale of this shopping bonanza. This year a new record was broken with 90 billion products sold!In 24hrs!
I know people who save for weeks to be able to spend thousands in that one day. I myself am guilty of participating in this glorification of online shopping. Few days ago, my OH and I ordered a few small items, nothing we couldn’t live without, in hope of getting them delivered for free, that’s all. If you know you need something and you are not in a rush then why not take advantage of the benefits offered that day, right?
Some online shopping fans get far too excited though and it is common knowledge that many will either stay up very late into the night (on the 10th) to take advantage of full stocks or get up really early to do some shopping before they have to go to work. I’ve even heard of people taking days off just to be able to shop online all day! Shopaholism taken to a new level…
As with almost everything, there is a flip side. Against what the TV and online commercials would have you believe, many Chinese choose not to shop on Alibaba’s websites on 11/11 as they are well aware that a) only some brands offer truly great discounts (many will quote misleading ‘original’ prices to show what a huge bargain you’re supposedly getting) and b) that they will need to wait at least two weeks for their items to arrive. With billions of orders to deal with, it’s hardly surprising that courier companies struggle to deliver the goods. Time is not the only issue with doing your shopping on Taobao and co. that day. There have been many reports of items going missing, getting damaged in transit, being delivered to the wrong addresses…I imagine that just as consumers get excited about the offers they’re going to bag, the poor courier drivers dread the manic chaos and panicking rush that follows.
Well, another year has gone by, another selling record. Online shopping phenomenon in China seems to be getting bigger and stronger, which is a clear indication of people’s rising disposable incomes. Surely that’s a good thing. Or is it?
Have you taken advantage of the offers on 11/11? If an event like that was set up in your country, would you participate or dismiss it?