What was new about Single’s Day 2020 and what are the implications for the future of e-commerce?
Single’s Day began in 2009 as an online shopping festival and has grown in sales value from c. 52M RMB (c. 8M USD) in 2009 to > 800 Bn RMB (c. 130 Bn USD) in 2020. It is now the world’s largest e-commerce shopping festival, having overtaken the USA’s Black Friday and Cyber Monday events, which turned over a “mere” 23 Bn USD in 2020 by comparison.
Analysis of Single’s Day 2020 reveals three key changes to the Chinese e-commerce landscape; the way products get marketed to buyers, the application of products, and the categories of product available to purchase.
Single’s Day 2020 saw the largest number of online property sales in the history of the shopping festival, with over 90% of development projects in the country pitched via the platform during the event.
Product marketing: Livestreaming is being leveraged by brands as a tool to incubate and nurture demand in advance of shopping festivals. In 2020, Tmall held its first round of pre-orders for live-stream 8 days in advance of the main shopping festival, cultivating interest and circumventing what is generally a more transactional mindset amongst eCommerce buyers.
Product application: Products marketed for ‘home use’ led the charge in demand. Food and groceries, home entertainment and takeaways saw a respective jump in demand of 49%, 37%, and 37%; creating a stark contrast with, for example, eating out (-47%), fashion (-41%), and beauty products (-39%).
Newly available categories of product: Notions of traditionally ‘offline’ product categories are being challenged. Single’s Day 2020 saw the largest number of online property sales in the history of the shopping festival, with over 90% of development projects in the country pitched via the platform during the event. Regardless of the final conversion rate, major platforms and property developers see the shopping festival as an opportunity to gather data on consumer interests and create off-platform leads.
Covid-19 has shifted and distorted aspects of e-commerce in China, but demand for products and services available online continues to grow. To compete in this thriving space, brands need to create a compelling proposition that is capable of evolving with the consumer habits in this ever-changing landscape.