The Golden Quarter Interviews: Singles' Day with Rick Parada

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In the first of three interviews on November's global retail events, Awin talks to Rick Parada from popular shopping site RebatesMe on the biggest of them all: Singles' Day. 

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Rick discusses how this exclusively Chinese shopping event touches consumers around the world and has global ambitions that could reach far and wide. For all three interviews on Singles' Day, Click Frenzy and Black Friday listen to October's podcast.

Black Friday, China’s Singles’ Day and Australia’s Click Frenzy all take place during November and represent some of the most important days in the annual retail calendar for brands and publishers across the globe.

Kicking off with Singles' Day on November 11th, we spoke to one affiliate who is bringing this Chinese event to a much wider audience.

Hi Rick, can you tell us a little bit about yourself and what it is that RebatesMe do?
As Managing Director for RebatesMe, a cashback and coupon deals site which is available in two languages, English and Chinese, I'm responsible for overseeing the whole global operation. We see a fair amount of traffic through to the Chinese version of our site and we do cater towards a Chinese audience and the products that they like. I manage the team responsible for working with the advertisers (online merchants) and any business development relationships.

And what is RebatesMe’s experience of working with Chinese consumers?
To tell you the truth the products most Chinese consumers want are pretty similar to what other consumers want globally. But the fact that the product has to be shipped to China from Europe or the US does limit what is bought. We see a lot of purchases in the luxury, maternal, health & supplement, electronics, beauty, apparel & accessories categories.

We also see higher AOVs with Chinese consumers since a lot of times they will consolidate their orders from different merchants in one market and then have them shipped over to China in one delivery. Shoppers are encouraged to consolidate their shipments with bigger discounts made available the heavier the weight of the shipment, thereby encouraging Chinese consumers to order more.

For those in our audience who don’t know much about Singles’ Day could you explain to us what it is and a little bit about its origins?
Singles' Day is always on 11-11, so November 11th. It was started by a group of University students as an alternative to Chinese Valentines’ day. It's a day to buy yourself something. Alibaba is such a big enough ecommerce company that they were able to turn this into a national shopping day. Kind of like how Amazon did with Prime day. However Singles' Day now seems to have gone mainstream globally, as another day for online retailers to promote in November and even as a warm-up period for Black Friday.

And how has it evolved over the last few years in particular and what do you think really distinguishes it from other global retail events (like Black Friday)?
Over the last few years more merchants in a number of new countries have adopted Singles' Day as a shopping day. I would certainly say it's fulfilling a kind of warm-up role for Black Friday now. Maybe a time to find very strong beauty and fashion deals for a day or two in November. It is now one of the top shopping days in November outside of Black Friday.

For retailers outside of China who are keen to take part in the event, what recommendations do you have?

I really recommend focusing on having a very strong offer for a day or two but also not to assume that what worked last year will work again this year. I would listen to what recommendations some of the Chinese publishers on your network are requesting and the suggestions that they have around the event. They are the ones who are listening to the Chinese consumers, reading their comments every day, interacting with the people who are purchasing online there. So spend some time with these publishers and ask them what they recommend as far as deals are concerned.

The Chinese shopper also expects to see something different on Singles’ Day to what is made available on Black Friday. So I would also suggest having something special to share just for that day or two over the course of the event.

What most excites you about the state of ecommerce in China right now?
I think we are still in the early stages of cross border shopping from China right now. I think more merchants will adopt easier payment methods for Chinese consumers to use, like AliPay & WeChat pay thus making it easier for Chinese consumers to purchase goods. Most Chinese consumers don’t have Visa or Mastercard to help them purchase products from retailers here in the West. However we are seeing more merchants adopt APIs that can take payment from the likes of AliPay and WeChat pay and this will really open up that opportunity for them a lot more.

The Chinese consumption of luxury, fashion or beauty products is not going away anytime soon either. If you look at any of the major tourist cities visited by Chinese travellers, they often shop at these big brand name stores and then go home to their country and take pictures of their goods, post them on WeChat and tell their friends who then want to purchase the same items and head online to do so.

Ultimately this is such a big market and I think we are currently just biting into a very small part of it.

Do you expect to see Singles’ Day become more of an international event this year?
I already think we are there. The past few ecommerce conferences I've been to have all spent some time talking about it. I think we will see even more adoption from other countries over the next few years and eventually it will be seen as another global shopping date like Black Friday.

What other predictions do you have for Singles’ Day this year?
I think we’ll see more merchants participate. I think the categories that do well will do well again, mainly beauty, fashion and apparel. But with 11/11 falling on a Sunday this year it will be really interesting to see if that will have a positive impact on sales. Typically people purchase late on a Sunday night or at work on a Monday morning, so I’ll be keen to see how that influences buying patterns during the event.

Listen to the full episode of October's Awin Talks podcast.

Read our latest whitepaper discussing our predictions for the Golden Quarter here.