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Rethinking ‘double day’ sales
The pandemic, supply chain issues and new competitors are all factors prompting a reassessment of the role of Asia’s ‘double day’ sales festivals for both brands and platforms.
Why it matters
Across China and much of Southeast Asia, the 11.11 shopping festival that Alibaba began in 2009 to celebrate singletons has expanded across the continent (with new ‘double days’ like 10.10 and 12.12 appearing in other markets), grown e-commerce, and become a macro-economic event. But now questions are being asked. Can last year’s wild growth be sustained? Will a shifting regulatory context dent performance?
Longer sales windows
The single day frenzy is receding. Partly, this is to do with slightly longer presale windows that offer e-commerce platforms opportunities to show their efficiency and to ease supply chain pressure. It looks to be working: Global Times reports that on Alibaba’s Tmall, many brands have seen sales surpass last year’s first day sales in China.
While it remains to be seen whether 2021’s growth can outpace 2020, e-commerce in general has become more important year-round as the pandemic brought online shopping to 80% of users in Asia Pacific, per Bain, and 68% of users in China, per Statista.
Taranjeet Singh, Managing Director, Southeast Asia and India at Criteo observes that growth in e-commerce sales during festivals has been slowing down as more people in the region get accustomed to remote work, life and play. “This is especially apparent for 11.11 sales in Southeast Asia, where 2019 recorded a 369.4% growth in retail sales [against the baseline year], while this slows to 296.6% in 2020”.
New entrants challenge incumbents
The dynamics of 11.11 have changed. Despite the walled gardens, with restrictions on the use of certain links across platforms and payment systems, video platforms like ByteDance’s DouYin (TikTok by another name) and Kuaishou have chosen to expand into e-commerce via livestreaming rather than remain as media platforms driving sales to those walled gardens. And they are seeing huge growth – Caixin reports that Kuaishou’s first-day sales were up 272% from last year.
Now China’s government has intervened, and the platforms have fallen in line behind the idea of a more open internet; at the same time it has demanded a return to ideas of common prosperity rather than rampant individual wealth.
This year’s double days will, therefore, find platforms in a state of flux, but don’t bet on them failing to meet last year’s figures.
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