Singles' Day Syndrome: Dealing with the post-peak aftermath

Singles' Day Syndrome: post-peak aftermath

How can retailers deal with post Singles’ Day Syndrome – the inevitable aftermath of the world’s biggest shopping festival, asks Practicology Greater China Country Manager Arthur Cheung?

Alibaba’s Singles’ Day hit a record revenue of $25.3 billion this year, eclipsing Black Friday and Cyber Monday, positioning the day as a truly global shopping event. The peak number of transactions per second this year on Tmall reached 325,000.

Retailers and brands trading in China have seized this chance to power their Tmall marketplace performance, and promote their direct-to-consumer (D2C) sites and bricks-and-mortar stores; making Singles’ Day a festival-like social phenomenon.

However, we know that poor planning can leave retailers with headaches, and customers unsatisfied. Common post Singles’ Day Syndrome symptoms include:

A sudden increase in returns and refunds. Retailers may face returns rates of 40% to 50% due to delivery delays, incorrect orders and customer regrets after impulsive shopping. Often there are insufficient staff numbers to deal with returning product to its correct position in the warehouse, and dead stock is easily created.

Over-forecasting leading to overstocking. To prepare for the event, many retailers will stock up on items for promotion. Overstocking is a common problem and creates warehouse and cash flow pressures.

Unsatisfied customers complain about delay logistics and unanswered enquiries. Generally, retailers allocate additional customer service resource to pre-sales customer care. Yet, customers also generate many post-transaction refund, exchange and delivery enquiries. Lacking customer service staff to respond in a timely manner leads to disgruntled customers and bad reviews.

Preventing post Singles-Day syndrome requires retailers to create effective campaign plans for each sales channel, for any peak shopping period. It is not necessary for all sales channels to become promotions/discount-focused to join the massive event; some can serve as branding and education channels and some can become post-event service channels.

Here is one plan for how to position your other sales channels to support Tmall sales for events such as Singles’ Day:

Bricks-and-Mortar: Retailers can create temporary refund & exchange centres for Tmall orders within their stores. Frontline sales representatives will encourage customers to choose an exchange rather than a refund, reducing the re-stock problem and saving the revenue. Exchanged stock can also be checked and put back on shelves without the dependency of the logistic company, preventing stock from becoming obsolete.

D2C Site: A retailer’s D2C site should always play an important role around Singles’ Day. It’s the best channel to control pricing, offers and, most importantly, customer engagement. Leverage these advantages to educate the customer about your brand and products, and organise pre-Singles’ Day events to capture the first wave of demand and create a buzz.

Other online Marketplaces: Putting the attention on Tmall / Taobao for a single day does not mean that a retailer needs to sacrifice sales through other channels. We always suggest that multichannel retailers have a carefully curated promotions / launch calendar. Undoubtedly, customers’ shopping desire will be dramatically decreased after Singles’ Day. Post-event promotions can be placed on other online channels to capture those who have missed the event. This is also a good time for customer engagement activities to show gratitude to the loyal customers and create sustainable customer relationships.

Singles’ Day is no longer a single day or confined just to Tmall. Planning activity in your different channels for the days before and after will be just as crucial to preventing post Singles' Day Syndrome and ensuring your overall success during the shopping festival.

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