What’s with 11.11





By Rose de la Cruz


Internet-savvy shoppers and big supermarkets are hyped about 11.11 with online retailers offering huge discounts (some up to 70 percent) and speedy deliveries to shoppers for that single day.


But what is 11.11 and how did this shopping craze start?


An article at the Telegraph said the spending binge, which takes place on Nov.11 each year has for years eclipsed Cyber Monday in the US for online purchases made on a single day.  Known as the singles day (because of the repeating number 1) this spending binge was an obscure “anti Valentine’s” celebration for single people in China back in the 1990s.


Known in China as "bare sticks holiday" because of how it looks numerically, Singles Day began as an anti-Valentine's Day in the 1990s when students at Nanjing University started celebrating their singledom.


It was then adopted by e-commerce giant Alibaba (China's Amazon equivalent) in 2009 and it has now become a day when everyone, regardless of their single status buys themselves gifts.


Alibaba chiefs spotted the commercial opportunity in Singles Day back in 2009 and began launching “Double 11” deals just as online shopping was starting to explode. It was also seen as a chance to boost sales in the lull between China’s Golden Week national holiday in October and the Christmas season.


In 2009 consumers spent 50m yuan (around £5m) and 27 merchants offered discounts. By 2011 – which was dubbed the Singles Day of the Century because it was 11.11.11 – more than £500m was spent across Alibaba's platform during the day.



When sales almost quadrupled the following year, Alibaba trademarked Singles Day. Some of the featured sales center around singledom, such as boyfriend pillows and single travel tickets, but the day has now widened to an all-inclusive shopping holiday.



The Hangzhou-based firm, founded by eccentric businessman and China's second richest man Jack Ma,  now refers to Singles Day as the 11.11 Global Shopping Festival.


Singles Day laughs in the face of Black Friday. In 2015, Chinese consumers treated themselves to almost £11.4bn worth of goods from Alibaba in just 24 hours. This year, Alibaba surpassed that total within 15 hours. 

This resulted in 467 million parcels being delivered after 710 million payments were made, according to Chinese news agency Xinhua. That was an increase of 60 per cent on 2014, and more than double the total online sales from Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Monday combined in the US in 2015, according to a report by Fortune. 


It's not just about Alibaba though. Rival Chinese firm JD.com also gets in on the act, and American and European brands like Zara and Macy's offer discounts. 


A 2015 survey of 1,000 Chinese internet users, conducted by Nielsen, found that the average consumer planned to spend 1,761 yuan (£181) during Singles Day - or 22 per cent more than 2014.  


Mobile shopping is big business in China. Around 37pc of Chinese shoppers buy products using their phones, compared to the global average of 13pc


Safe shopping on 11.11

Kaspersky urges online shoppers to watch out for spam and phishing threats leading up to various big sale events happening across Asia on November 11. In the country, Filipinos have already been preparing their online carts for highly anticipated sales in e-commerce websites next week.


Researchers from the cybersecurity company have reported on a sharp increase in fraudulent activities around the extremely active online shopping period in Asian countries which takes place every Singles’ Day on November 11.  While Singles’ Day originated from China, it is now relevant to users of e-marketplaces all over the world. Pre-holiday promos and sales on global Asian platforms are welcomed internationally, and scammers are now targeting users in different languages.


Kaspersky has detected a spike in financial phishing attacks before the big Singles’ Day sale in 2018. The average number of financial phishing attacks fluctuated at around 350,000 per day in October. Then, a couple of days before November 11, 2018, the spike in attacks reached more than 950,000. The researchers are also witnessing similar spam and phishing attacks now as they urge consumers to be careful with their purchases. 


Pre-single’s day phishing page sample in 2019


Apart from that, Kaspersky researchers have found some threats in mobile apps that were disguised as popular e-commerce platforms. The share of shops that have special offers for Singles' Day is traditionally high. In 2019, 83 percent of the online shops were pretending to be Asian marketplaces, while in 2018 the number reached 93 percent.


“While Single’s Day is the best time to shop, as discounts and promotions are well-advertised to users, this is also a peak time for phishers and spammers. Fraudsters become more active during this period. In the pursuit of great discounts and limited offers, people lose their vigilance and are less likely to distinguish a phishing website from a legitimate one. However, such things should not be an obstacle for those hunting the best offers. Consumers have nothing to worry about if they follow the rules of basic cybersecurity hygiene, so good luck to everyone in finding the greatest deals of the year,” comments Andrey Kostin, a security researcher at Kaspersky. 


Kaspersky’s advice


1.       If you receive a link to a great offer via email, make sure to check the embedded hyperlink  - sometimes it may differ from the visible one. If it does, access the deal page directly through the legitimate website.

2.       Only make purchases through official marketplaces and pay attention to the web addresses if you are redirected to them from other landing pages. If they differ from the official retailer, consider checking the offer you were redirected to by looking for it on the official web page

3.       Use a security solution with behavior-based anti-phishing technologies, such as Kaspersky Security Cloud or Kaspersky Total Security, which will notify you if you are trying to visit a phishing web page

4.       Never use the same password for several websites or services, because if one is stolen, all your accounts will be made vulnerable. To create strong hack-proof passwords without having to face the struggle of remembering them, use password managers, such as Kaspersky Password Manager