November 11 (11/11) is known as Singles’ Day in China. However, aside from being a day to celebrate being single, it has also become a day for shopping.  


In the past, Nov. 11 was only a simple holiday called Singles' Day in China. The first Shopping Day started in 2019. 

The CEO of Taobao, the largest online shopping app in China, initiated the first event. At the time Taobao was not popular. His main goal was to create a big event like Black Friday to catch consumers’ attention. 

At that time, only a few big brands joined this event such as Philips and Li Ning. What’s surprising is that the transaction amounts that night were 10 times more than normal on Taobao. Since then, people gradually have gotten used to shopping on that day.

                 The cover when you open taobao

Evolutions of 11/11 Shopping Day

In the first few years, the rules of 11/11 Shopping Day were quite simple. Stores provide discounts on products so that as long as people make their purchase on Nov. 11, they can get a discount. 

However, the rules got more and more complicated as the popularity and people’s focus grew. 

The stores and Taobao app now set the start of the festival at midnight on 11/11 and give a limited amount of products. People need to stay up late till 12 a.m. to snag the merchandise. Usually the popular products, such as famous sports shoes, will be sold out in a matter of seconds. 

Also the discounts are not as straightforward as before. Unlike a direct percent off of every product, the app gives 20 yuan off every 200 yuan spent (three dollars off of every 30 dollars purchased). This requires people to make a precise plan before purchasing so they can have the most benefits. 

The time period of 11/11 Shopping Day also gets longer and longer every time. People usually pay a deposit at first and then make the whole payment on Nov. 11. 

This year, Shopping Day starts on Oct. 20, almost a month before Nov. 11. This year, the amount spent on Oct. 20 was 10.6 billion yuan. This is only the deposits, not the total amount of payment. 

New Varieties of Online Selling and Problems

When talking about Shopping Day, we need to mention the format it's based on: online shopping

Online stores sales are already a huge progress from physical store sales. But there is further progress from online sales: live sales on social media. Recently there is a formed trend of selling products through livestreaming. 

Better than Taobao, Live allows sellers to do a real-time introduction of the products. They can answer any questions from the audience immediately after they comment below. 

There are many apps including Live as a sale tool such as Taobao and Tiktok. Some famous brands will also invite famous stars to join the Live room to attract fans and more consumers to watch. 

Li Jiaqi is the top seller in Live sales. He sold 10.6 billion yuan worth of products this year. 

                    Li Jiaqi doing an introduction about skin care products

But unlike the normal sales on the Taobao app, Live has no rating systems. Consumers can’t get any feedback from previous buyers. Since they are unable to see the real products, it leads to a higher probability of bad quality.

             Different stores doing Live      

As this sales holiday gets more and more dazzling, its discount strength is not as big as before. Sometimes people need to buy a lot more things they don't need in order to attain the discounts. 

Some stores even raise the product prices first and then give the discount. This means there is not so much difference between the 11/11 sales price and the normal price.

Cross-store full reduction: 40 off of every 300 spending

All in all, it is good to see that it is getting more and more convenient for everyone to buy anything they want. They can visit online stores without having to go out, no matter how rare or uncommon the products might be. It is great that the festival and sales make both brands and consumers happy. 

But at the same time, stores and apps should be more honest to consumers. They need to provide real benefits to the consumer instead of only creating a marketing gimmick.

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Xinyi Wang

Xinyi is a student majoring in Economics at the College of William & Mary. She enjoys her spare time happily and tries to share relaxing things in Chinese ways with you all.
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