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China's Singles Day is huge opportunity for online wine retailers

Published:  06 November, 2014

Wine retailers looking to crack the Chinese market should get ready for next week's Singles Day, when China is expected to set a record for the most money spent online in one day.  

Cracking the Chinese wine marketCracking the Chinese wine marketOnline wine sales could see a boost next week on November 11, which is Singles Day in China, the busiest day of the year for cyber shopping

November 11 is Singles Day - traditionally when unmarried Chinese men celebrated their status with a drink, but it has now grown to include both sexes and married and single folk. Retailers offer heavy discounts online - with sales outstripping Black Friday and Cyber Monday combined.

The opportunity for wine online in China is significant. John Watkins, chief executive at ASC Fine Wines said in an interview earlier this year with the Wall Street Journal: "In the traditional offline world of alcohol, wine makes up 5% of the total by value in China. In the online world, it makes up 34%."

Singles Day is the biggest online shopping day of the year and last year online retailers sold more than US$5.75 billion on the Alibaba owned platforms Taobao and Tmall. That was a 20% increase over 2012 and two and times more than what American retailers pulled in 'Cyber Monday'. A total of 402 million unique users visited the sites.

China's Single Day is the largest grossing online shopping day of the year

But who is buying the wine online and where is the traffic coming from? "We think there are more women online, and the buyers are younger," said Watkins.

A majority of the wine sales online happen through Taobao and Tmall. According to Watkins, 80% of imported wine sales in China are made on Tmall.

The opportunity for online retail in China doesn't seem to slowing down either.

David McCorquodale, head of retail at KPMG, said: "This is a growing market. By 2020, China's e-commerce market is forecast to be larger than those of the US, UK, Japan, Germany and France combined. It has the potential to deliver massive future growth for UK retailers suffering from flat-lining sales in Western Europe."