Singles Day: $116B in GMV. First order delivered under 5 minutes.

$116B between 2 eCommerce retailers. in 24 hours trading.

This is the headline we have already seen. And that is in roughly 24 hours of trading. (Some pre sales done, but effectively this was it). 3M people working in logistics or 75% of the Irish population, give or take a town or two. 583,000 orders per second at peak.

On Singles Day 2020, 14m products from 250,000 brands from 89 countries were available on Alibaba's ecommerce site Tmall.  More brands also joined the event this year with 5,000 brands participating for the first time and of these new brands, 2,600 were from outside of the Chinese market. At this year's event, 13 brands managed to  generate sales surpassing $150m in GMV while 342 brands including Apple, Huawei, Xiaomi and others each surpassed $15m in GMV.

My Singles Day (11.11.20) key takeaways

-- 2021 prep starts now

-- Partnerships are critical

-- Livestreaming will be a core channel here within 12 months (or should be)

-- It is not all about discounts

-- Brands need to excite and encourage people to engage

-- First packages received in under 5 minutes

-- Within 18 hours, 337 cities had deliveries

So, how do you do it? How Small Brands Cut Through Singles’ Day Noise

Josh Garnder is CEO of Kung Fu Panda and Chinese market growth expert - Follow Josh on Linkedin

China’s top two e-commerce players raked in more than $116 billion in gross merchandise volume (GMV) over the Singles’ Day sales periods. Alibaba said GMV on its platforms was up 29 percent over last year, reaching 498.2 billion yuan ($75 billion). JD.com also set a new sales record of 271.5 billion yuan ($41 billion) during the event growing 33 percent compared to last year.

Just do it - or plan to.. Nike

On Tmall, Nike’s turnover exceeded 100 million yuan ($14.9 million) one minute after on November 1 and within 111 minutes 100 brands topped GMV of 100 million yuan ($15.1 million), including Adidas, Apple, L’Oréal, and Estée Lauder.

Cool Factor Beats Size Hands Down - Josh Gardner

"I can tell you very, very, very clearly and with a lot of confidence, Alibaba loves hot brands. They love new, hot movement. They are not actually about scale or size; they are about growth. I think people fail to realize that, “explained Josh Gardner, CEO of Kung Fu Data, an e-commerce partner operating a portfolio of flagship stores on Tmall and JD.com – largely for independent international brands with an average annual GMV of 10 to 30 million yuan ($1.5 to $4.5 million).

Livestreaming is one major way brands have been directing traffic to their stores on major platforms and during its Double II campaign, Golden Goose capitalized on a five-minute slot with livestreaming super host Li Jiaqi, to do exactly that.

“We had a huge spike [of] millions of people entering out flagship store when we did the livestream… and were able to do a sizeable amount of conversions,” Maggioni said.

New brands = New traffic

Growth has always been the goal for Chinese e-commerce platform, but with a user base of more than 750 million people, it’s harder and harder to achieve for a behemoth the size of Alibaba. New brands, which equal new traffic, have become the most prized commodity in China’s e-commerce space.

One reason some smaller brands fail to capitalize on Double 11 is insufficient preparation because there is a widespread lack of understanding about the timeline of Double 11 and Gardner estimates his customer service team sees conversions of 80 to 90% when they interact with the customer this time of year, compared to the normal rate of 30 to 40 percent throughout the rest of the year.

Increasingly, the desire of platforms to attract luxury fashion and beauty brands seems to be opening the door to exploring avenues other than discounting for Double II, such as exclusive products.

Lesson - Partnerships are CRITICAL for expansion

For Richemont, China has overtaken the US to become the biggest market. Richemont said its new deal with Alibaba and Farfetch, which will see the luxury conglomerate and Chinese e-commerce titan invest $1.1 billion - $550 million each – in the online luxury fashion retailer and its new Chinese marketplace. This partner approach is a key strategic lever across all platforms and verticals.

According to data from Alibaba, 357 emerging brands and only 11 emerging brands managed the same feat. More than 1800 merging brands surpassed their GMV from Double 11 last year and, of these, 94 emerging brands enjoyed sales growth of over 1,000 percent.

How did other e-commerce players fare?

Lazada

  • The Alibaba-owned platform took 35 mins to surpass last year’s first 2-hours sales.
  • It sold more than 180,000 items by the 11th minute, which works out to more than 16,000 items sold per min.
  • It surpassed its 9.9 campaign sales within 5 hours.
  • Sales for LazMall products in the first hour exceeded that of LazMall products sold on 9 September.
  • Top 3 categories: Beauty, Electronics and Home Appliances.
  • Popular brands include Apple, Prism+, Dyson, Nike, Coach, LEGO, and Estee Lauder.
  • Top-selling products include staycations, TVs, groceries and exercise equipment.
  • Lazada saw three times more participating brands and sellers vs 2019 Singles' Day.

Shopee

  • In the first hour of November 11, Shopee recorded 20 million visits across the region.
  • Home & living, beauty & personal care, mobile & gadgets were best-selling categories amongst Singaporean consumers.
  • High demand for Apple Airpods and Merries Diapers, with almost 3,000 units sold.
  • The highest transaction was worth SGD$7,000, as a consumer bought ASUS gaming laptops and Intel Processors

Shopback

ShopBack Singapore

  • In the first hour of Singles' Day, the top categories based on traffic were Health & Beauty, Electronics, and Food.
  • In the first hour of Singles' Day, the top marketplace merchants based on traffic were Lazada, Shopee, and Taobao.
  • In the first hour of Singles' Day, the top brands based on traffic were Zalora, Dyson, Apple, iHerb, ASOS, and Nike.
  • In the first hour of Singles' Day, the top products based on traffic were Staycation, Airpods Pro, and Prism Monitors.
  • ShopBack saw an over 20x uplift in total traffic in the first hour of Singles' Day, compared to an average day.
  • This year, ShopBack saw a 40% increase in merchants participating in Singles' Day, compared to 2019.
  • "The performance during the first hour of ShopBack's 11.11 sale is very encouraging, and we are excited for what the rest of the day will bring. ShopBack is the bridge connecting users to their favourite brands, and it seems that shoppers are making ShopBack the first stop of their online shopping journey to ensure they are getting the best deals and value on all their purchases. I would like to invite everyone to visit ShopBack to browse their favourite brands and products this 11.11: cashback promotions, upsized vouchers, flash deals, and many more - there is something for everyone!" said Joel Leong, co-founder, ShopBack

ShopBack Malaysia

ShopBack Malaysia’s first-hour user shopping data studied the shopping trend and found:

  • Significant increase in terms of shopping traffic (web + app) in the first hour. It experienced a traffic spike of 20x compared to the same hour (12.00AM – 01.00AM) on an average day this month.
  • Adidas’s shopping traffic soared by more than 100x in the first hour (versus first hour on an average day); Shopee and Tmall’s increased by over 20x.
  • Shoppers visited general marketplaces such as Shopee and Taobao the most, followed by Fashion stores such as Zalora and Adidas, and health & beauty stores such as Watsons.
  • Among the 80+ Shopee Official Stores that are directly offering cashback on ShopBack, Enfagrow, P&G, Pediasure, Samsung, and Vinda were leading in terms of sales transacted by ShopBack users in the first hour.
  • Driven by the high number of Covid-19 cases in Malaysia, Shopback also observed over 50x increase in Dettol’s first hour sales compared to the same hour on an average day this month.

Carousell

  • The second-hand marketplace took a different approach by 'boycotting Singles' Day.
  • It said since 10.10 ended, there has been an endless barrage of pop-up ads for Singles' Day sales which means Singaporeans are now anxiously holding onto their online carts to be the first to qualify for, or ‘chope’, the big discounts.
  • That is why it said it is saying: "NO to 11.11. No to wasteful spending. No to buying new things that we’ll eventually throw away. At Carousell, we just have low prices all year round. We give new life to pre-loved items, instead of adding to landfills."
  • It took to Orchard Road to (literally) shout about its lack of Singles' Day sales and wrote an open letter to its users to apologise too.

How did brands like these manage to leverage an event that has been traditionally biased in favor of bigger brands with far deeper pockets?

Irish brands and EU brands now have a decision to make in the new Brexit era - partner into a saturated, mature and largely stagnant market or plan for something different in 2021. Fortune, as they say, favours the brave.