Korean retailers gear up for China's Singles’ Day amid thawing ties

By Won Ho-jung
  • Published : Nov 5, 2017 - 16:38
  • Updated : Nov 5, 2017 - 16:38
Korean retailers are quickly gearing up for Singles' Day, China’s largest shopping event of the year, in the hopes of scooping up sales as relations between the two countries show signs of improving.

Since early this year, Korean retailers have seen sales from Chinese tourists drop significantly after intergovernmental tensions over Korea‘s decision to deploy an American anti-missile shield here soured Chinese consumer sentiment towards Korea. 

However, with a recent agreement between the two countries to normalize relations “expeditiously,” retailers have been cautiously optimistic about consumers from the world’s largest market turning to Korean stores and platforms to shop.

A screen displays total sales during the Guanggun Jie Global Festival last year. (Alibaba)

Singles’ Day is China’s version of Black Friday, and comes around on Nov. 11 each year. Although the origin of the event was an anti-Valentine‘s Day idea focusing on promotional events for singles, the rise of Alibaba has transformed the day into a mega shopping event.

Last year, the gross merchandise volume on Alibaba’s global online mall Tmall reached 120.7 billion yuan ($18.2 billion) during its global shopping festival. The day was a windfall for Korean sellers as well, with E-Land recording 329 million yuan in revenues in one day. Other high-performing brands included kitchenware brand Lock & Lock, Lotte Mart and E-mart.

With Singles‘ Day less than a week away, those in the retail industry are rolling out various promotions targeting consumers in China.

SK Planet’s e-commerce platform 11st recently renewed its Global 11st, which specializes in selling Korean products to overseas shoppers. The new site integrates Chinese and English versions of the site and supports various easy payments methods such as AliPay. Through Saturday, the site is offering up to 50 percent discounts on categories such as cosmetics, fashion and children‘s products, as well as coupons for discounted shipping. 

The Chinese page of Doota Duty Free’s online store is offering 111,111 won ($99.70) in points to the first 1,111 shoppers starting at 11:11 a.m. each day through Saturday, as well as cash cards for travel agency C-trip.
Shilla Duty Free has also prepared a variety of rewards points deals for shoppers on its Chinese sites from Nov. 10 to Nov. 13. 

“Shilla Duty Free has been expanding its marketing towards Chinese consumers in various ways, including increasing benefits for shoppers who pay using AliPay, social media marketing with internet celebrities, and familiarization tours with Chinese travel agencies,” the company said. 

By Won Ho-jung (