Many shoppers in China have become so frustrated with the massive selection of deals on Singles’ Day that they have turned to social media to do the shopping for them.
After Alibaba’s 11.11 shopping day tallied a record $30.69 billion in sales in just 24 hours, Chinese social media was awash with hints of a growing frustration with what some are calling “infotoxication,” according to Jing Daily.
Single’s Day shoppers took to social media to complain about the sometimes-confusing nature of the online shopping experience, citing a bloated selection of products and a user experience that has become so esoteric that it spawned an entire industry of curated shopping lists.
Those issues clearly didn’t stop shoppers from participating in a day of deals that also saw Alibaba rival, JD.com, rack up another $23 billion in sales. However, the top trending term for Singles’ Day on Weibo, China’s Twitter equivalent, was #canIcopyyourshoppinglist, Jing Daily reported. The next day, users reported that the seventh most visited website in the world, Alibaba’s own Taobao.com, was crashing due to a wave of Singles’ Day returns.
These incidents coincide with a growing trend for Chinese shoppers to turn to third-parties, many of whom are native to social media, to offer suggestions and curated selections of deals for consumers who are frustrated with the process.
TMall.com, the most popular Alibaba-operated marketplace, began offering “Double 11 Picks” in 2017, promoting the service as a way for consumers to avoid having to sift through its own online selection. This year, Tmall held a talent show to uncover the best unknown shopping experts and promoted the winners, and their selections, on its website.
Jd.com’s entire Singles’ Day strategy, which includes its choice to turn the holiday into an 11-day event it calls the “Good Stuff From the World Festival,” was to project itself as the curated, slower-moving alternative to Alibaba’s retail offering. Another curated e-commerce site, Yanxuan, predicts $3 billion in gross sales by the year-end.
On social media, the curated shopping trend is evident. A social e-commerce app known as Little Red Book hosted more than 241,000 individual entries on its #Double11WorthList hashtag over the holiday, often including detailed instructions on how to calculate the final price for their shopping carts. Additionally, many “KOL’s” or key opinion leaders—essentially social media influencers—published shopping guides in the lead up to Singles’ Day and JD.com’s festival.
According to Jing Daily’s report, China’s urban upper-middle-class listed “shopping efficiency” as its top consumer demand in a 2018 report from Chinese firm iiMedia Research. The 2018 Pitney Bowes Global E-commerce Study found that 61 percent of global consumers were let down by the online shopping experience during last year’s holiday season, up from 47 percent in 2017 and 41 percent in 2016.
Meanwhile, retailers around the world (many of which began as digital-only) have begun to open more physical locations as a way to capitalize on the fact that consumers still prefer to make purchases in-store.