BEIJING: China's e-commerce giants are gearing up to cash in by offering online sales promotions for Singles Day, which is coming up on November 11.

The day, which was started in the 1990s by college students as an alternative to Valentine's Day, has been taken up by online retailers over the past five years, with the leading sites T-Mall and Taobao posting sales volumes of 19.1 billion yuan last year.

T-Mall's approach in 2012 is detailed in this Warc Exclusive report.

In 2013, T-Mall is promoting 50% discounts and using social media to attract shoppers; vice president Wang Yulei also indicated that that more than 20,000 online stores had joined the Single's Day campaign.

"The number of stores going to join the Double 11 Day promotion has doubled," he told Xinhua, adding that they were planning to put many more products on sale at a discount.

Rival ecommerce platforms are also looking at ways to get a piece of the action.'s Li Xi said: "During this year's event, we will carry out small trials with some brands, including time-honoured brands and department stores."

This was a reference to the showrooming trend. Department stores in Chongqing have tackled this by attaching logos to products, so customers can, for example, try on clothes in store before ordering online to enjoy the discounts.

Wan Donghui, deputy secretary-in-chief of the China E-commerce Industry Association said this was the future. "More and more companies in traditional industries [and] more retailing companies are forging commercial models of OTO [offline to online]," he noted.

He saw franchise stores opening online stores, while online platforms were cooperating with offline stores. "I think the trend is, quite obviously, beneficial for everyone," he concluded.

The increasing importance of the e-commerce sector was underlined by a weekend report indicating that 2.2m people were currently working in the industry.

The People's Daily also cited figures from trade associations suggesting that the e-commerce sector had helped to create more than 16m jobs in other industrial sectors.

Data sourced from Xinhua; additional content by Warc staff