How e-sellers can make the most of Alibaba’s Singles’ Day Sale

BACK in 2009, Alibaba CEO Jack Ma picked November 11, Singles Day (11.11 — the four digits evoke “bare branches,” the Chinese expression for the unattached) to create the biggest shopping festival in Asia.

At last year’s sale, one of Alibaba’s most successful thus far, the company generated CNY 168.2 billion (US$25.3 billion) in revenues.

Compared to the US$14.5 billion revenues that all of Thanksgiving Thursday, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday sale brought in last year — it was a mighty shopping festival (and opportunity) that most e-commerce players take seriously.

On sale day, Alibaba accepted orders from 225 countries and regions last year and helped at brands such as Nike, Xiaomi, and Uniqlo achieve more than CNY100 million (US$14.5 million) in sales each.

About 90 percent of the transactions on Alibaba’s platforms were performed on mobile devices, and at its peak, Alibaba’s processors handled 256,000 transactions per second.

It’s a great big sale, and it’s coming quickly. Since Singles’ Day brings in a large chunk (sometimes even 50 percent) of the annual revenues for e-commerce businesses, they start preparing early. Some started thinking about this year’s sale as soon as the last year’s one ended.

Here are some tips to help e-commerce players make the most of sale day this year (and in the future):

# 1 | Start preparations early:

If you want to make the most of the big sale days, it’s essential that you start early. Making sure that you’ve stocked up on your products, locked in the best price, and listed them online with all the right descriptors and keywords is essential.

It’s also important to make sure that your logistics partner knows that you’ll be participating in the big sale. Usually, they can help make arrangements to stock your inventory in specialized warehouses, optimized to meet the demand during the sale days.

# 2 | Study the competition:

There are hundreds of thousands of vendors and online sellers looking to attract the same crowd during the sale. If you want to get the attention of your customers and make the sale, it’s important to study your competition.

Look for sale day posters online and on social media platforms to learn what your competition did last year. Look for marketing campaigns they’re running this year to get a jump on their latest offers. Make sure you’re prepared to match your closest competitor’s offers if you want to make the most of the sale.

# 3 | Learn from the past:

If this isn’t your first year in operating during the sale, make sure you review what you did in the previous year(s) and compare that with your performance in the market.

Maybe a certain kind of product worked best in the past or a certain kind of audience was more keen on buying from you during the sale — make sure to use all the data you have, identify the trends, and make the most of them when deciding your strategy for this year.

# 4 | Inform your customers:

Most e-commerce businesses have the email addresses of their (repeat) customers. It’s a good idea to use this to market to them — sending them exclusive coupons for the sale day and telling them of the offers in advance so they can plan for the event.

Another way to inform customers could be via social media. Posting offers and highlights of your giveaways on sale day on your social media profiles could help inform customers and their friends.

# 5 | Create some excitement:

This is the most awaited sale of the year — people wait all year long to splurge on gaming consoles, toys, and home decor. It’s a great opportunity for most businesses in China and the rest of Asia.

Creating some excitement on this occasion is quite easy if brands entice customers to buy more while stocks last. Campaigns that highlight the offers and savings that customers can benefit from also provide exciting opportunities.



This is the third in a series of stories that Tech Wire Asia will produce to help e-commerce readers better understand and plan for Singles’ Day this year. Come back tomorrow for some niche digital marketing tips.