What We’ve Learned from Singles Day 2015

Rumors of a weak Chinese economy may have been greatly exaggerated: Singles Day 2015 came in like a lion, and went out like a lion.

Alibaba announced that USD $14.3 billion of gross merchandise volume was settled through Alipay on Alibaba’s retail marketplaces, making the 2015 11.11 Global Shopping Festival the largest shopping day in history. That’s a 60% increase over last Single’s Day total of $9.3 Billion.

And while JD.com did not mention dollar signs, JD.com also announced record-breaking one-day results from its Singles Day sale. JD.com saw its number of orders increase by 130%, and an increase in GMV of more than 140%, compared to last year.

So what have we learned, so far, from Singles Day 2015?

All the World is a Shopping Cart

Alibaba set out to make Singles Day a worldwide selling event, and it appears to have succeeded. One-third of all buyers purchased international products. According to an infographic it released Thursday, the Top 5 markets buying Chinese exports were Russia, Hong Kong, the United States, Taiwan, and Spain. And the Top 5 markets selling to China were the United States, Japan, South Korea, Germany, and Australia.

U.S. Brands – We Think – Made Out Well

International brands continued to gain in popularity among JD.com’s shoppers. For example, Forever 21 one-day sales increased by 650% compared to Singles Day 2014. JD.com said U.S. brands including top sellers such as Apple, Samsung, Adidas, New Balance, Columbia, The North Face, Philips, Nestle, Mead Johnson and Wyeth, among others, did very well on Singles Day.

Chinese Consumers are Mobile-First

Both Alibaba and JD.com reported extremely high Singles Day sales figures from mobile devices. Alibaba said $9.8 billion in GMV came from mobile devices – not only is that up 158% year-over-year, but more that Alibaba’s total GMV of $9.3 billion last year. Meanwhile, JD.com reported 74% of total orders were placed via mobile platforms, including JD.com’s native app, and through Tencent’s WeChat and Mobile QQ platforms, the increasingly popular social media platforms of choice among China’s growing population of mobile users. More than 52% of first-time customers on JD.com during the day came from WeChat and Mobile QQ.

Paid Search Was Up, But…

In October, AdGooRoo found around $2,600 in spend on the Singles Day keywords “singles day,” “singles day sales” and “singles day sale,” but none of it came from retail advertisers. Instead, the bulk of the Singles Day Paid Search spend last month came from online dating sites like southjerseymatchmakers.com and elitesingles.com, who are likely broad matching on the term “singles,” and shenglidigital.com, a consultancy offering guidance for U.S. retailers to participate in Singles Day in the Chinese market.

Tim Parry is Managing Editor of Multichannel Merchant.