Happy Guanggun Jie!

The 11th November is not only a significant date in the Western calendar but now also in China but for very different reasons.  Guanggun Jie, or Singles Day has become the biggest online shopping day in the world, overtaking Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

The concept of Singles Day came from Nanjing University in China during the 1990’s as a day to celebrate being single.  They bought small gifts for each other and celebrated their single status.  Twenty years later and the sentiment has changed with the day becoming the most important retail day in the calendar, none more so that online.

China’s biggest retailer, and now one of the most valuable brands in the world, is Alibaba.  In the first hour of trading on Singles Day 2014 they reported selling over $2bn worth of goods, then passing the $6bn mark with hours still to go, eclipsing last year’s sales. In an attempt to “claim the day”, Alibaba actually trademarked the term “Double 11” or "双十一" in 2012, which means that no other party can use the term in their advertising of the day.

Other companies have also reported record sales.  Xiaomi Corp, China’s biggest smartphone vendor reported sales of over 720,000 in the first twelve hours of trading. Whilst thousands will enjoy a new smartphone, one man will regret his purchase.

One Guangzhou resident decided to make a real impression on the lady in his life, spending more than a whole year’s salary on 99 iPhones (worth an estimated $82,000) which he arranged in a heart shape before proposing to his girlfriend in front of work colleagues.  She said no.

Whilst retailers will be counting the cash in the till at the end of the day, some consumers will be counting the cost of buying counterfeit or non-existent goods.  The traditional warning signs of “if it appears too good to be true, then it probably is” apply more so on days like Singles Day or Cyber Monday where shoppers are desperate to grab a bargain. It is all too easily for cyber criminals to set up authentic looking websites in order to trick unassuming buyers, disappearing just as quickly as they arrived once they have pockets full of cash.

NetNames suggests three golden rules to avoid the Singles Day cyber blues:-

  1. Check that the domain name of the website matches the company you are buying from;

  2. Check the domain name details itself.  When was it registered, who by and where?  Use a simple WHOIS tool to find this information out;

  3. Search for reviews on the company in question.  What are other shoppers saying about the products and services?

Written by Stuart Fuller, Director of Commercial Operations and Communications, NetNames.