The 11th November in the United Kingdom is a day for remembrance of those who fell during the armed conflicts, whilst in the US it marks Veterans Day. But it seems the reverence of the date will soon be consumed by capitalism if retail trends continue. Just a few years ago we'd never experienced the retail phenomenon of Black Friday or Cyber Monday but this year the 27th November is set to be the busiest shopping day in history on these shores as an anticipated £1 billion will pass through the actual and virtual tills. However, that pales into insignificance compared to events on the other side of the globe.
The 11th November in China is known as Singles Day and this year spending on that day is likely to dwarf that of Black Friday. Last year, China's biggest retailer, Alibaba reported sales of over $9 billion. They can certainly feel very pleased with themselves as they themselves created the shopping day. In fact they have gone as far as trademarking the term "双十一" (meaning "Double 11") back in 2012. Tmall.com, one of Alibaba’s leading sites, invented the 24-hour sale five years ago to take advantage of the wildly popular Singles Day, when young people take to the shops to celebrate or cheer themselves up for still being unattached.
In an interesting development this year, Online marketplace (and another subsidiary of Alibaba) AliExpress is allowing Russian retailers to sell on their platform. Mark Zavadsky, head of business development at AliExpress for Russia feels the decision will benefit both parties. "We plan to attract a new high-end audience that for some reasons was not interested in our service so far,” Zavadsky said as firms on both sides of the border gear up for the logistical nightmare of trying to fulfil online demand.
Whilst Singles Day has yet to reach these shores it is only a matter of time. Alibaba has rapidly grown to be one of the biggest online companies in the world, with revenues over $12 billion in their last financial year to end of March 2015. Our shopping habits have been completely revolutionised by the Internet with online spending topping £120 billion in 2014 according to research carried out by Visa Europe. A number of factors have fuelled that impressive growth, although a lot of the credit for innovation and the enhanced shopping experience has to be given to Amazon. Alibaba's global ambitions follow the same principals as Amazon, so it's only a matter of time before Singles Day enters the UK consumer’s lexicon along with Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
Whilst these online mega-sales offer savvy shoppers opportunities for discounts galore, they also raise the risk of cyber criminals stealing more than just a bargain. Fake websites or seller profiles can sometimes be hard to spot and it may be days or even weeks before shoppers realise they have been duped, by which time the fraudsters are long gone with the website users’ credit card details. Our three step guide to staying healthy, wealthy and wise in the online bargain shopping season will
- If it looks too good to be true, it almost certainly is. Ask yourself why an unknown online retailer would be willing and able to offer the kind of bargains that the major retailers can't.
- If it doesn't look right, it probably isn't. Whilst a website may look like Amazon's or any other major online retailer does the domain name read correctly? Our m1nd5 h4v3 a gr34t ability to read things correctly even when they are not. So make sure you are on Alibaba.com rather than A1ibaba.com. If in doubt, use a tool like www.who.is to see who the true owner of a website's domain name is.
- Never hand over any personal or financial details via an insecure website. Always look for a secure connection, highlighted by a green URL bar, the padlock symbol or a web address that starts "https".