Singles’ Day hasn’t caught on with the mainstream North American consumer just yet, but for Yamibuy, a California-based online-only retailer of Asian products, Nov. 11 (Singles’ Day) will represent the culmination of months of preparation for five days of sales.
“We started preparing more than three months ago because we import a lot of stuff from Asia to sell to Asian-Americans,” says Yamibuy chief marketing officer Aaron Yin. “We’re doing a five-day campaign with tons of deals and savings and even before that, on Nov. 1, we started letting people know we have a big campaign coming up so they can start to talk about us and shop with us.”
Singles’ Day, held every year on Nov. 11 to encourage single people to go online and buy themselves something, became a sales holiday in 2009 thanks to Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. Since then, it has grown into something of a cultural phenomenon in China that generates more online sales than Cyber Monday and Black Friday combined. Black Friday is the colloquial term for the Friday after Thanksgiving, which is traditionally the kickoff to the holiday shopping season in the United States, while Cyber Monday refers to the following Monday, which has traditionally been one of the largest online sales days. This year, Black Friday is Nov. 24 and Cyber Monday is Nov. 27.
Last year, Alibaba reported that the value of goods sold on its marketplace, called gross merchandise value, on Singles’ Day was $17.79 billion, up 24.3% from $14.32 billion on Singles’ Day 2015. For context, data from Adobe Digital Insights shows that Black Friday and Cyber Monday combined in 2016 to generate $6.79 billion in sales in the U.S.
The runup to Singles’ Day means November is an even busier month for Yamibuy, which also will feature promotions for Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
“We have to work overtime to get everything ready in terms of inventory and the messaging,” Yin says. “It takes a lot of effort to prepare [multiple] big sales events in one single month.”
Yamibuy, which launched in 2013 and has 500 employees in the U.S., does not ship to China, however the retailer’s audience skews heavily toward Asian-Americans. Because Singles’ Day is such a big deal in China, Yin says its momentum has carried across the Pacific Ocean and affects Yamibuy’s sales this time of year.
“Singles’ Day, we are focused more on Chinese-Americans because the day was created by people in mainland China and has been adopted by Asian-Americans. Last year we had record sales on Nov. 11,” Yin says. “This year we should have more than 100% growth (year over year). Sales are more than Black Friday and Cyber Monday for us.”
To prepare for the increased demand, Yamibuy has 150% more inventory in its two warehouses in Los Angeles and New Jersey in November than it did in October, Yin says. Starting in August, he and his team ramped up their marketing efforts on social media platforms, including Weibo and WeChat, and purchased ads on Chinese radio stations in Los Angeles to generate additional brand awareness.
“When we buy the media, we definitely talk to the media who are featuring Chinese as a language,” he says. “That’s our big difference.”
Key to Yamibuy’s Singles’ Day success, Yin says, will be how effective the retailer is in getting shoppers to share its deals via social media.
“We do incentivize our customers to share [our deals] on WeChat,” Yin says. “We will give them some kind of bonus.”
Yamibuy’s rewards for sharing on social media typically come in the form of points that a shopper can redeem for credit on its site, he says. Shoppers who register on Yamibuy’s site are automatically enrolled in the retailer’s rewards program, and 100 points will earn a shopper $1 to use toward a purchase on its site. For example, a shopper who posts about her Yamibuy shopping experience and tags Yamibuy’s Weibo handle during Singles’ Day will earn points.
The retailer also has developed a digital “red packet” worth 500 points that shoppers can send through social media or email and then receive rewards for every new customer who shops with Yamibuy because of them. Red is generally considered a lucky color in China, and red envelopes stuffed with money are traditionally gifted to family members and other loved ones during the Chinese New Year.
“When we are working with loyal customers, it’s not about the money,” he says. “It’s about the feelings they have for us. That helps the most.”Favorite