China’s Singles Day is upon us again this Wednesday, as the world’s largest concentration of Internet users gears up for a one-day online spending spree that dwarfs eCommerce in the US for the entire five-day Thanksgiving weekend, including Cyber Monday.
First, some background: China’s Singles Day traces its origins to 1993, when students at China’s Nanjing University began to observe the day, November 11, by buying themselves gifts as a way of celebrating being single—a sort of “anti-Valentine’s Day.” The four ones in the date’s numerical format made it the ideal date for celebrating singlehood. But, it wasn’t until 2009 that Singles Day started to become a massive eCommerce event. That’s when China’s top eCommerce company Alibaba launched its first Singles Day sale, offering deep discounts across its commerce sites.
People in China still buy themselves gifts on Singles Day, but also buy gifts for their significant other; Singles Day has become a popular day to become engaged in China. And all that buying adds up—last year, Alibaba’s eCommerce sites recorded $9.3 billion in sales on Singles Day. Alibaba is generally thought to account for 75% of Singles Day sales, which would push the total China Singles Day number to over $12 billion. By comparison, Catchpoint customer ComScore pegged Cyber Monday sales in the US last year at just over $2 billion, with the five-day eCommerce total from Thanksgiving to Cyber Monday at nearly $6.6 billion.
The outlook for this year’s Singles Day is even rosier in China, with 56% of respondents to a Nielsen survey saying they would spend more this Singles Day than last year. Only 6% of respondents said they would pull back.
At Catchpoint, we’ll be benchmarking China’s Singles Day for the first time this year. We’ll track the performance of 24 eCommerce sites with both .cn and .com domains including the Alibaba sites TMall, Taobao, and AliExpress. We will also measure the performance of CDN and external DNS services in China. My colleague, Catchpoint’s Corporate Communications Manager Maria Eldridge, will report on the results early next week.
As the runaway success of Singles Day demonstrates, opportunity abounds for online businesses in China. The country has more Internet users than the US, Japan, and India combined and represents the largest eCommerce market on earth, expected to be worth more than $1 trillion by 2018.
But with that opportunity comes a myriad of challenges in hosting and delivering content, challenges that are unique to the Chinese market. Once you get your site up and running, you’ll then have to monitor it across such a vast country with an idiosyncratic ISP network.
Fortunately, we can help you in navigating the complexities of the Chinese online opportunity. In partnership with China Cache, we recently published “Scaling the Great Wall: How to Deliver Superior Web Performance to End Users in China,” a free eBook.
In this eBook, we walk you through the network infrastructure in China, the process of being certified as an Internet Content Provider in China and hosting your content inside its “great firewall.” Then we tell you what to monitor and how to monitor it, the challenges you’ll face, the peak times your site has to be ready to perform, and other tips on doing eBusiness in China.
Happy Singles Day!