On 11th November 2017, Singles’ Day – the world’s biggest shopping day – smashed retail records once again. This year, the annual event became four times bigger than Black Friday and Cyber Monday with shoppers spending more than $25bn during the course of the day.

If it’s not on your radar yet, Singles’ Day originated from China and began as an ‘anti-valentine’s’ celebration for single people back in 1993. Fast forward 24 years, thanks to ecommerce giant Alibaba, it has as evolved from a national celebration of single status to a global shopping event. The day is now promoted as an occasion to treat yourself to a gift, regardless of your single status.

This year, we predicted that sales from the UK network would be at an all-time high this Singles’ Day. This was due to a range of factors including the decreasing British pound, an increasing appetite for luxury British goods from Chinese consumers and greater awareness of the event in the UK.

As UK brands look to expand into the APAC region, Singles’ Day has become a key strategy. Many brands are leveraging the affiliate channel as it offers a low-risk, low-cost way to expand beyond their national borders and enter new markets.

As we work with brands to meet their goals, we’re constantly examining the data and incorporating learnings into our strategy. Below are some of the key trends and learnings we have seen from Singles’ Day 2017 here in the UK:

Positive Growth

Following the global trend above, our affiliate network saw a 79% increase in orders YoY during Singles’ Day 2017.

It’s no longer just about China

Interestingly, sales from within the UK were the strongest with a 32% increase in sales YoY. Clearly, our own APAC community and UK shoppers were engaged with the event this year. Singles’ Day promotions were heavily promoted by our publishers in the UK with large domestic audiences such as Dealmoon, honglongjin.co.uk and UK WHR. After the UK, we saw the most sales coming from the United States, Hong Kong and China and South Korea. Notably, sales from South Korea saw one of the biggest YoY uplifts with an increase of 185% YoY.

Accessories and Apparel

From looking at last years’ data and the growing desire for British luxury goods from APAC consumers, we expected there to be a surge in sales for the luxury vertical. However, it was actually the apparel and accessories vertical which was our top performing vertical with sales up 34% YoY. This was followed very closely by the luxury vertical which experienced the highest average-order-value (AOV) which increased by 28% YoY. The travel and homewares verticals also saw an uplift in AOV with increases of 47% and 1986% retrospectively.

Cashback and voucher publishers are key

11.11 is a promotional event and as such, we see the more promotional publishers becoming a source of sale information for consumers. After all, Singles’ Day attracts the savviest shoppers who are looking for the best offers. This was evident as this year we saw loyalty and reward publishers driving the highest amount of sales with a 41% increase YoY. This was followed by coupons and voucher sites which had a 37% YoY increase. As the event becomes more widely known and competitive – advertisers should favour CPA increases over flat fees and work with cashback publishers as the additional savings for the consumer means you could win that sale.

Learnings for 2018

Although YoY growth was strong again this year, UK retailers need to invest in Singles’ Day further if they are serious about participating in the Chinese market.

We spoke to our APAC specialist, Senior Strategic Account Manager, Angelika Porfyratou to find out how marketers can make the most of this key shopping day going forward.

“Singles’ Day falls in an extremely busy shopping period with Click Frenzy (14.11), Black Friday (24.11) and Cyber Monday (27.11) following closely after. Therefore, you need strong offers in order to cut through the noise.

Consumers from the APAC region are increasingly looking for the best deal – especially when purchasing from overseas where there are factors such as shipping fees and a hefty cost of return to consider. During this shopping period, we will see these consumers looking to purchase their wish list items – often from the luxury vertical. It’s wrong to assume that these shoppers have any loyalty to particular retailers, they simply looking for their desired items at the best possible price.

When planning for next year, I recommend that luxury retailers looking to take advantage of Singles’ Day, need to offer at least 22% off site-wide in order to compete. Luxury brands should work in partnership with cashback and voucher publishers and offer commission increases in order to hit top sales numbers. Advertisers need to focus on strong, unique offers and remember that Singles’ Day is not a publisher-driven event, but an event driven by advertiser promotions.”