Retail, Performance Marketing

Seize the Singles' Day Opportunity to Thrive This Holiday Season

MERGE discusses how Singles’ Day works, the results witnessed in recent years, as well as strategies to help retailers maximize revenue during this important date on the e-commerce calendar

BY: Matt Horsey

PUBLISHED: 10/11/2023

“Singles’ Day” is an e-commerce event that was started by Alibaba in 2009 and in the last few years has found its way to the U.S. through affiliate marketing. Falling on November 11, Singles’ Day in China is the largest shopping day in the world, bigger than Amazon’s Prime Day and Black Friday combined. It’s a day for people to shop for themself, or to kick off their holiday shopping if they haven’t already.

Given the global impact of Singles’ Day, it is important for U.S. retailers to understand the scope and scale of the shopping event, and consider how they can implement this into their holiday strategies as the holiday gains more traction stateside. Below, MERGE discusses how Singles’ Day works, the results we have witnessed in recent years, and offers strategies to help retailers maximize revenue during this important date on the e-commerce calendar. 

How Singles' Day Works

It doesn’t take much to participate in Singles' Day and it doesn’t necessarily require a promotion, though a promotion does help keep you competitive. 

Most, if not all, cashback publishers run increased cashback events for the day, many playing into the number 11, so you will see 11% cashback from many retailers on most of the top sites.

Coupon sites are a natural fit for any promotional event, so expect to see lists of top sales on all coupon sites, which are already filled with people looking to shop. 

Content sites had been slower to start promoting Singles’ Day sales, but quickly increased their promotion once they started seeing revenue increase. With that, many will be promoting the top sales this year — again, you don’t have to have a sale to promote on Singles’ Day, but you will limit your chances of success if you don’t have some sort of promotion, even if just on a few categories for the day. 

Results in Recent Years

Each year, Singles’ Day has increased in popularity, with massive revenue and traffic increases for brands that participate in the event. In the last four years, our brand partners who have participated in Singles’ Day have increased their revenue (48%) and their traffic (39%) on average. 

Brands that opt out of participating don’t see revenue flatten out YoY, they actually see their affiliate revenue drop by an average of 23% YoY – if you aren’t participating, your competitors will be sure to send you a thank you note. 

We often hear that brands don’t want to discount because it will lower their AOV or customers will just shop once and never come back. In reality, however, the opposite is true. We have actually seen AOV increase more than 65% on average each of the last four years, meaning the small discount and/or increase in cashback is getting people to add more to their cart than they would have previously. 

As mentioned, content sites were slow to embrace Singles’ Day but are now putting significant effort into creating multiple lists for the best sales to cover every category possible (Gifts for You, Gifts for Your Spouse, Household Items, etc.). This work, along with an increase in consumer knowledge about Singles’ Day, has helped content site revenue grow more than 96% YoY for the last three years. 

Because this is largely an affiliate-only event, you will see your percent of revenue from affiliate increase significantly on 11/11, with some brands getting close to 50% of sitewide revenue from affiliate for the day.

Maximizing Your Revenue

Playing into the event has made a huge impact for many of our brand partners, and it didn’t mean they had to have a massive sale. One of the most successful Singles’ Day promotions we have seen was from a brand that had an 11% discount for the day and took part in a few 11% cashback events. The brand rarely had sales, so this became a big deal for shoppers. This one-day event became the third largest revenue day ever for their site (higher than the previous year’s Black Friday), just because of a one day 11%-off sale.

The number one thing your brand can do to have success on Singles’ Day is increase your cashback with as many publishers as possible. Anyone visiting a cashback site on 11/11 has an intent to buy something. If you don’t have increased cashback, at least one of your competitors will and studies show that consumers are 67% more likely to shop at the brand with the largest cashback. If you are matching the cashback of your competitors in the events, you will be on a level playing field for sales.

With all things being equal, our recommendation is for retailers to offer a sitewide sale on 11/11. We also acknowledge that isn’t always achievable for every brand. Still, opportunities abound for brands to take advantage of Singles’ Day and the growing importance it carries on the e-commerce calendar.

Looking to make the most of Singles’ Day and the rest of the holiday season for your brand? Get connected with our team of retail marketing experts at MERGE today!