Singles Day, the celebration in China for people who are single, has become the single most lucrative shopping day in the world. So now it comes with a hashtag, and that hashtag was very busy yesterday. As were the virtual cash registers at Alibaba, ringing up $14.3b in sales in a 24-hour period. That's up nearly 60% over last year. What are the takeaways for Cyber Monday, Single Day's $2b puny little nephew?
- It's an event, not just a coupon: Anti-Valentine's Day fervor, starring Daniel Craig, singer Adam Lambert, and Mandopop singers Jane Zhang and Amber Kuo! And President Frank Underwood. Alibaba makes it about the theme and not just about the timing on the calendar and discount-hunting. That drives participation and sharing.
- It's global: Alibaba invested a ton in building international partnerships to allow shoppers more access to more foreign goods than ever before. And they brough in international buyers. According to OnwardClick, "Russia, Hong Kong, the United States, Taiwan, and Spain were the top regions for international buyers.
- It's mobile: Mobile sales went from 43% of #singlesday purchases to 68.7% from 95 million mobile buyers. "Over the course of the 24-hour shopping marathon, consumers will have a new surprise every hour that has been especially tailored for mobile users," promised Daniel Zhang, Alibaba's chief executive officer. For example, they built gamification into their app, with games that allowed shoppers to accumulate points (discounts) starting two weeks before the day.
- It's self-gifting: The 2 top-selling categories are women's and men's wear, respectively. It's a holiday with built-in permission for shoppers to spend on themselves.
Cyber Monday has no soul. No story. Except discounts and "you better get your shopping done!" There's a lesson in here for every retailer and how they relate to their customers this holiday season.