"Single's Day" originally arose among college students in humourous honour of single people. Alibaba seized on the idea of staging a big sale on the day as a way to provide good deals to consumers during a period when no sales are available in traditional offline retail channels (the 11 November date falls between the national holidays and the spring festival).
Alibaba promoted the event as an opportunity to thank consumers for their support through the years, while Tmall.com wanted to raise awareness of the value of online shopping among merchants and consumers.
This year, Alibaba Group said it wanted to help businesses build bridges to consumers and give back to society and customers by providing access to cheaper products.
Alibaba placed promotional banners across the homepages of Tmall’s website to remind consumers of the event, while merchants also highlighted their participation in the sale on their online storefronts.
To help bridge the gap between online and offline shopping, some Tmall brands extended their promotional activities to more than 30,000 real-world outlets, encouraging shoppers to visit stores in the days leading up to 11 November to examine goods. Shoppers could scan QR codes with their mobile phones to add those products directly to their online Tmall shopping carts. They would automatically receive the appropriate online discounts when they completed the purchases on Single's Day.
Alibaba Group also teamed up with China’s two largest telcos to offer mobile users larger data packages with no increase in price, allowing shoppers to shop with their mobile phones and tablets.
Apart from discounts of at least 50 per cent offered by participating merchants over the 24-hour period, the shopping site also featured virtual games that gave shoppers the chance to win digital "red packets" (rebates) worth more than 300 million yuan (US$49.2 million).
On 11 November, the final transaction tally over Alipay for Taobao Marketplace and Tmall.com was 35.01 billion yuan (approx US$5.7 billion) in gross merchandise value (GMV), representing an 83 per cent year-on-year increase from last year.
By contrast, the just-completed 'Cyber Monday" in the US brought in an estimated US$2.29 billion in sales, according to Adobe Systems, which tracks 2,000 retail sites.
Of the total transactions, 5.35 billion yuan (US$877 million) was generated via mobile sales, representing an increase of more than five times over last year. Mobile sales accounted for 21 per cent of the total number of transactions.
Alipay for Taobao Marketplace and Tmall.com reached 1 billion yuan (approx US$163 million) in GMV transactions in the first six minutes and seven seconds of the day.
The orders placed on 11 November generated a total of 152 million packages.
The websites attracted more than 402 million unique visitors during the day.
Almost 20,000 brands, including adidas, Nike, gap, Toys “R” Us and Uniqlo, participated in the event, compared with 27 participating merchants at the first “11.11 Shopping Festival” in 2009.