How Did Singles Day Sell Over £1.1 Billion Worth Of Goods In 96 Seconds?

    By Amy Montague, Thursday 14 November 2019

    The 11th of November marked 11 years since Single's Day first began, and with £1.1 billion worth of goods being sold in just 96 seconds, the number of retailers jumping on the Single's Day bandwagon has dramatically increased since 2018.

    Single's Day first started garnering western attention in 2018 after ecommerce giant Alibaba reported the sales event brought in an astonishing £23 Billion in just 24 hours, with £1 billion being spent in the first 30 minutes. Compare this to Black Friday which brought in just over £6 billion and Cyber Monday which brought in just under £6 billion, Single's Day is clearly ahead of the game. But what can UK retailers learn from the Singles Day success?

    What is Singles Day?

    Originating in China, Single's Day has often been marketed to audiences as an anti-valentine’s day, with the event itself taking place every year on the eleventh of November (11/11). Since its humble beginnings in 2008, Single's Day has become a huge ecommerce event with Chinese retail giant Alibaba leading its success. The use of a giant countdown clock and singers such as Taylor Swift headlining the Single's Day concert, Alibaba is the pinnacle of marketing genius. But not all retailers can afford to organise a concert every year, let alone employ A-class celebrities to advertise their event.

    Singles day count down clock


    How do they do it?

    What Alibaba does so well that other brands don't seem to do, is forefront digital excellence. Just like Cyber Monday, Single's Day is a largely digital sales event, with more than 70% of the revenue coming from online purchases, and the ecommerce giant knows this as they test and perform extensive usability tests on all their sites before the event is launched. This minimises the chance of any bugs or conversion blockers from interrupting customer journeys and maximises potential revenue.

    Bringing this back home, 45% of shoppers plan to take advantage of the sales using their laptop or desktop computer during Black Friday and Cyber Monday, with a further 24% planning on using their mobile, and this is where UK and US sites fail.

    UK sites are well-known for failing to test and examine their digital platforms before key ecommerce events, often resulting in site crashes, conversion stopping bugs and disgruntled customers. How do we know this, because site crashes happen every year. During 2017, UK gaming brand experienced a website crash on Black Friday due to the number of customers flocking to their site ready to bag some killer discounts. In 2018, the John Lewis site crashed again during Black Friday, as the company failed to learn from its previous site crash in 2015.

    Why do site crashes happen?

    Every year ecommerce brands put their websites on a type of code-freeze a month or so before Black Friday begins, preventing any site changes that could boost performance during high load times. The theory behind the code-freeze is that the site is hopefully updated weeks before the Black Friday event and then placed into a type of frozen state so that no other updates can be added which could potentially corrupt the site. This method, in theory, makes sense but the problem is these sites often avoid undergoing a complete web testing analysis before the code freeze begins, meaning any bugs present on the site stay live until the day of the event. As a result, site crashes, slow loading times and disrupted customer journeys are a frequent occurrence.

    “If a website or app isn’t up to scratch, those retailers will quickly lose customers to competitors – our own research found that almost 60% of consumers feel much more negative to a brand if its site is consistently slow to load,” - Antony Edwards, COO of Eggplant

    It's no secret that the better your digital performance the higher your conversion rates and revenue become. The baseline fact is, any bugs or issues present on your site or app prior to Black Friday/Cyber Monday will reveal themselves as the site undergoes extreme stress.

    But there is light at the end of the tunnel, brands such as ASOS, Dyson and Superdry already utilise out-of-house testing communities to perform large scale global website testing. Covering all the base, from localisation to regression and usability. Finding a web testing company should be an easy and relatively inexpensive task, as the positives heavily outweigh the negatives especially as more people shop online instead of instore. In fact Argos expect more than 2 million people to visit their site on Black Friday using stats from previous years. The question remains, is your site truly ready for Black Friday or are you simply hoping that you can survive Black Friday/Cyber Monday without any testing?

    Amy Montague

    Amy Montague

    As one of the Marketing Executives for Digivante, Amy provides and reviews most of the copy and visual content for Digivante. Amy has a natural flair for the creative and introduces aspect into her marketing role.

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