November 12, 2019
2 min read time

China’s Singles Day 2019 – Another record-breaking retail blowout


Despite a Chinese economic slowdown, ongoing tension between China and the US as the tariff and trade war drags on, and escalating Hong Kong unrest, there’s been no damper on another record-breaking Singles Day. You’d never guess that there was any change to consumer spending power or appetite at all.

According to most post-event stats, Alibaba alone raked in more than 38 billion USD in purchases – eclipsing its record 2018 figures. In fact this year it only took 16.5 hours to catapult this year’s numbers over the top of last year’s. Year after year, Singles Day continues to exceed previous years’ records and to make the Cyber Five shopping period – the peak shopping period between Thanksgiving and Christmas – look puny. For comparison, Alibaba’s gross merchandise volume by 5 p.m. had already surpassed 2018’s Singles Day record. On Cyber Monday last year, American retailers sold just under 8 billion USD of goods (and only about 25 billion USD in sales over the entire Cyber Five period).

What’s powering Singles Day?

Apart from the sheer volume of must-have deals, steep discounts and aggressive marketing (which has, incidentally, started to go global), a few other factors influence Singles Day performance and focused consumer attention on specific brands and activities. Key trends and ideas to keep in mind with Black Friday – Cyber Monday and the whole Cyber-Five shopping event on the horizon – not least because of the technical enablement and readiness companies need to tune up under the hood.

The basics: Uptime

Will it surprise anyone that ensuring uptime and availability – the very basics of web performance – will be fundamental here? No. But it’s something your site reliability and devops people will be keeping an eye on as floods of traffic arrive all at once to take advantage of irresistible deals that your company has been marketing, advertising and pushing in the lead-up to this crucial revenue-generating day.

Live streaming

Seen this Singles Day as a key driver of revenue growth, retailers enlisted star power to live stream. Alibaba, Singles Day’s leading retailer, kicks off the shopping frenzy with a gala event, which is live streamed online and acts as an ‘brand advertainment’ event. Consumers flock to the site to see their favorite celebrity while getting in on the ‘pre-order’ action. Retailers are creating experiences rather than just inviting people to spend money – and live streaming adds that extra interactivity.

Sinking serious money into celebrity endorsements and activities, live streaming has become an integral part of retailers making their Singles Day events a must. And thus a must-perform situation for the heavily in-demand live stream.


This is still somewhat future-oriented, but there were several mentions of 5G’s potential to revolutionize the e-commerce landscape. With the ubiquity of always-on, everywhere, fast connectivity – and more people using it – there will be more customers, more personalized content, better personalized/AI-influenced experiences, and more opportunities for virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) (both seen as keys to more advanced, “lifelike” e-commerce experiences). 5G brings most of the potential of the internet to life in new ways, enabling more functionality at greater speed. And companies will have to be ready for the volume of traffic 5G and its accessibility will enable.


With these elements of Singles Day in mind as you head into the busy upcoming e-commerce shopping period, are you ready?

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