Singles day: The new ecommerce opportunity before Christmas

Forget Black Friday. Forget Cyber Monday. The ecommerce day making headlines in Asia and soon to make landfall in the West is Singles Day on November 11th. Originating in China, it started life as a counterpart to Valentine’s Day. Since 2009 however, Chinese ecommerce giant Alibaba, amongst others, has used the day to drive traffic between Chinese New Year and the end of summer.

It dwarfed Black Friday last year, raking in $9.3bn for Alibaba alone (Tech in Asia, November 2014). Falling at the opening of the holidays season in the West, it may be seen as another nightmare day of discounts for retailers but, the day offers a huge nascent ecommerce opportunity for retailers.

Firstly, there’s still time to get the drop on the more lethargic retailers. A bit of data science can go a long way. Look at the correlation for your frequent shoppers and the types of items they buy. Personalizing their landing pages for these item categories will pique their interest especially if you don't want to draw attention to the fact that it may be a gift for themselves.

Mirroring your in store promotions online can encourage visitors to match up their online journeys with their in store purchases. In order to ensure it doesn't ruin your conversion rate, you could issue unique codes for online offers, to enable attribution and provide the multichannel dream your CEO aspires to.

If you do decide to discount, be savvy. Offer attractive qualifying thresholds for delivery, free Christmas gift wrapping, or gift cards with a value for the visitors next spend. In a season where loyalty is hard to come by, creating brand loyalty will encourage visitors to return through the season, boosting your chances of repeat conversion because the first is usually the hardest to get.

With retailers frequently coming out in publications like Retail Week slamming Black Friday it shouldn't all be about big discounts. Instead if you have some budgetary flexibility it is probably worth spending that on traffic acquisition. Yes footfall increased and page views will go up, but if it is all unqualified traffic then it is pointless. If particular channels prove lucrative to you (such as social) you can challenge your marketing team to come up with viral campaigns specifically for that channel. Reward users who come via campaigns with specific curated content and conversion rates will rise.

Singles day, is not going to light up the West this year in the same way as Black Friday or Cyber Monday, but that does not mean it is not worthy of attention especially for those firms with large international footprints. Whilst all big discount days need careful navigation, having a precise strategy and innovative ideas will make the day into a clear opportunity with the potential for large reward for the holiday season.