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GROWTH POST-LOCKDOWN How to capitalise on Singles’ Day boom

How to hang on to those Singles' Day wins (Image:  AdobeStock)

This year’s Singles’ Day topped out at more than £42bn in sales – with as much as £1.4bn coming from UK consumers – cementing its position as a proper international sales peak for retailers and brands

Many of you may already have been selling into China and you may well also have taken advantage of the schemes run by AliExpress to capitalise on the sales festival this month. But how can you maintain that momentum now Singles’ Day is over?

Here we take a look at what is selling well in China right now and how to build on the success of this week and take it forward – something that will be increasingly important in the Brexit months ahead.

What sells well in China?

Initial analysis of sales across the whole Singles’ Day period – which started in earnest with a pre-Singles’ Day sale between 1 and 3 November – suggests some other interesting sales trends, which may inform Black Friday.

According to Alibaba’s initial figures, more than 100 brands, including Nike, Adidas, Apple, L’Oréal, Estée Lauder and Lancôme, achieved RMB100m (£11.4bn)in gross merchandise volume (GMV) only 111 minutes into the first sales period. 

Beauty products – always a popular category during the 11.11 festival – generated more than RMB10bn (£1.14bn) in GMV and exceeded 150% year-over-year sales growth in the first hour of the event. Estée Lauder’s Tmall flagship store was the first to surpass RMB1bn (£0.1bn) in sales during 11.11. 34 new cutting-edge brands in the beauty category also achieved more than RMB10m (£1.14bn) in sales in a single day.

More than 1,800 emerging brands – defined as brands that have been on Tmall for less than 3 years –surpassed their respective last year’s GMV on November 1. Among them, 94 brands have already achieved 1000% YoY growth.

The number of new products debuting on Alibaba’s B2C platform Tmall alone will exceed 2 million this year, twice the number of new products from last year, clearly illustrating how important the festival is for capturing consumer attention and driving engagement.

Nearly 200 luxury brands joined this year’s 11.11 festival; among them Montblanc, Piaget, IWC Schaffhausen are participating for the first time. Luxury brand Cartier hosted its first jewelry show on Taobao Live, unveiling more than 400 timepieces and jewelry items, including a necklace valued at RMB90 million (USD28.3 million). Their livestream attracted 770,000 viewers in just two hours.

Positive results from the 11.11 presale period show robust and continuously growing demand for imported goods. Tmall Global’s first day pre-sale GMV growth increased by 90% YonY. 

The first delivery of an item purchased during the shopping event was for mosquito repellent. The delivery occurred 11 minutes after midnight to a consumer in Chengdu, Sichuan Province, who placed the order via, Alibaba’s on-demand delivery platform.

How to capitalise on Singles’ Day

Singles Day showed the retail industry what an online shopping event should look like. Leading the way, exceeding last year’s 1.9 billion products ordered and delivered, with Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba breaking a record for its 11th year running.

Jake Athey, VP of Marketing and Customer Experience, Widen, believes the answer lies in making sure your marketing and messaging basics are right. He says: “If you’re a retailer looking to capitalise on this year’s biggest trends: ‘revenge spending’, it is wise to remember that shoppers will most likely be browsing products with a few swipes of a finger from the comfort of their homes this Singles Day. These consumers are also likely to quickly get frustrated if they cannot find what they want, where they want, or if they are shown irrelevant visual content. It is widely accepted that most online shoppers won’t even wait three seconds for a website to load its images. It is therefore important for retailers to anticipate and meet the surges in demand for products and services at the right price point, with the right delivery options, using attractive, optimised visual content.”

He adds: “Ahead of the chaos, success is all about preparation for retailers. Unlike a shop floor, where an empty shelf shouts “out-of-stock”, e-commerce platforms do not always present information in real-time. Online retailers need a solid technology ecosystem to be ready to promote products with the right visuals and product data when they’re for sale, and remove or replace the content from their website once sold out, if they are going to deliver a consistent, positive customer experience.”

Athey has some simple tips for retailers:

  • Clearly communicate with your audience. From using personalisation strategies and an omnichannel approach to reach a target market, through to ensuring stock levels are what they say they are, retailers need to adopt a watertight communication process. There is nothing worse that receiving non-relevant marketing or getting to the online checkout only to find the product you are buying is not in stock. 
  • Don’t sacrifice accuracy and consistency. Key to building brand trust is delivering accurate and consistent brand marketing which resonates with a target audience and builds trust.
  • Review product data. Making sure product information is recorded and listed accurately is imperative for ensuring marketing and sales teams deliver the right product asset or description to the right audience, at the right time. Miss an opportunity with a wrongly listed category and a retailer risks losing a sale.”

Applying the lessons to Black Friday

With Black Friday just around the corner, capitalising on sales on Singles’ Day is going to give retailers that took part something to build on. But you don’t need to have actually taken part in Singles’ Day to learn the lessons that it has shown.

Find out what can be applied to Black Friday from Singles’ Day over here.

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