A VERY Comprehensive Guide to Singles Day 2017

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You have probably heard of Singles Day but do you know the hype behind it? Singles Day, a major shopping holiday in China, is happening on 11th November.

What started as an idea executed by a small group of friends gradually became a university tradition. Singles Day grew into something like the anti-Valentines day, a day China’s single young people – at first just men, but later single women adopted the tradition as well – could use as an excuse to get together and do fun stuff like visit karaoke bars together. Traditions like eating youtiao – fried dough strips that resemble the number one – in the morning evolved as the holiday spread, and by the late 2000s it had become pretty widely known, especially among China’s youth. With just one month to go before Singles day, it’s time to get your shopping money ready and your shopping list out, fast!

We’ll be breaking down this post into:

  • General Tips
  • Website Specific Tips
  • Places in Singapore that run discounts during (or around) Singles Day

General Tips

1. Don’t buy with Forwarders

Time is of the essence.
By the time your forwarder is able to place your order (and probably thousands of others), your deeply discounted item would’ve probably already sold out. This is especially true for trending items (i.e. the ones that appear on the homepage as “Good deals”), or other highly coveted branded goods! To avoid being disappointed, get your online shopping accounts (and credit cards) ready before 00:00 on Singles Day!

2. Use your computer, not your phone

As much as phones are used a lot more often than computers nowadays, more often than not, the desktop sites are more stable than the mobile apps. Although Alibaba tries to make sure their app is stable, you’ll find that the app crashes a lot more often than the website does. Whats more, if you’re using the desktop site, it’s a given that you’ll have tens of tabs open!!!
Efficiency = More Savings

3. Choose the right website to shop on

People always think that Taobao is the only way to shop China – but it’s not! There are other sites like Tmall and Aliexpress to shop on! (There are some Alibaba sites that we can’t shop on, like 1688 which provides wholesale for Chinese shoppers in mainland china only.)
Rule of Thumb:
Taobao: C2C (Consumer to Consumer) & B2C (Business to Consumer) platform, which means that almost anyone can sell on Taobao. Most items can be found and purchased here.
TMall: B2C (Business to Consumer) platform only – the seller MUST be a legal entity (registered brands like Adidas, or an official manufacturer of a certain product.) ALL products on TMall are official and authentic.
If you don’t mind a slightly higher price, try out Aliexpress – it’s in English, and shipping is often free.
Alibaba: The wholesale arm of Alibaba group – this site sells stuff at dirt cheap prices… Sunglasses at 50c each? Now you know where all the sunglass shops at the Pasar Malams get their stocks from!!! Note that orders here need to be in bulk (often in 50s, or 100s).

4. Use the right credit card

Before you start shopping away, check out which cards give better cashbacks, and who knows, you might be getting all your brand new goodies for free!

Credit Card CashbackRequired Min.
Spending Per Month
Maximum Cashback Per Month
Standard Chartered Singpost Platinum7% on online purchases$600$60
OCBC Titanium Rewards MasterCard10 OCBC points per $1 spentN/A 120,000 OCBC points per YEAR (1:1 point rate thereafter)
DBS Live Fresh Card
3 DBS points per $5 spent online
5% cashback on online purchases & additional 5% for new card members at selected stores
HSBC Revolution Card$120 Cashback for new cardholders
$50 Cashback for existing cardholders
5 HSBC Reward Points per $1 spent online
$600 (must be charged within first month of card account opening date) N/A
Citi Rewards Card$20 cashback per $200 spent
10 Citi Reward Points per $1 spent online
Standard Chartered Spree Card2% on all online purchases in local currency and 3% in foreign currencyN/A$60
OCBC Frank Card6% on all online purchases$400$60

5. Pay LESS on TaoBao, T-mall & More


Stop paying with credit card on TaoBao. Period. Save on 3% CC charges and exchange rate with us, and its cheaper to use our service than going to the AXS machine which is time consuming and tedious. Our users saved more than $50,000 thus far – our team is ready for immediate response and payment so there’s no worries about money being stuck.

Good rates and FREE service – what else to better maximise your 11/11 loots!

Website Specific Tips

1. Taobao

My favourite website – hands down. You can get literally anything for this site at crazy prices. (p.s. Taobao sellers stock up from China-only 1688.com).

Couple of tips for Taobao:

1. Make sure your items ship to Singapore
2. Create an account and make sure your payment method works first, before you start choosing items only to get frustrated later
3. You have to download the Aliwangwang plug-in to chat with sellers (there’s no chat interface on Taobao itself)
4. Use Taobao’s Daily deal page (Called Tejia, or 特价)
5. Make sure that the individual Taobao seller you’re buying from accepts credit cards (there should be a small logo before the buy now button), if not you won’t be able to check-out even if the rest of your sellers accept cards!

2. T-Mall

Tmall is like Taobao’s little brother that specialises in all the other branded goods that Taobao doesn’t sell What this website focuses on is quality, quality, quality! You won’t be finding any cheap knockoffs here.

Tips for Tmall:

1. Before Singles Day, head over to Tmall’s curated selection to check out a list of items on crazy discounts. The items here are all for PRE-ORDER, so you gotta pay a deposit then purchase the item on Singles Day itself!
2. Download the QinTao software, it tracks all the sales going on for Singles Day for you (yay!). You can even set up notifications for when your favourite stores start going on sale.
3. Tmall ships to Singapore!!! 

3. Aliexpress

Adding to the family tree, Aliexpress is like Taobao’s rich older brother that speaks 15 languages. You can access this site from nearly anywhere in the world, and conduct all your purchases in your native tongue!

Tips for Aliexpress:

1. Look for the “Guaranteed Genuine” tag – You can buy iPhones at cheaper prices, and if the “Guaranteed” genuine iPhone isn’t genuine, you can expect a full refund. In fact, if the seller opts for the “Returns Extra” scheme, you can return a product if you simply don’t like it!
2. Don’t click on the dispute tag until you’ve received the item! (You only get ONE chance to use this option). For example, if the seller is taking 10 years to ship the item out and you start a dispute, all the seller will do is reply you once the item has arrived (like 2 weeks later) and if the product is defective you can’t open another dispute…………… No don’t do this to yourself. p.s. you can cancel disputes if the seller hasn’t responded, but once they’ve responded, your chance is gone!!!
3. Customer feedback is king! Always check out reviews from other buyers, as well as check out how old the shop is (years) and whether the seller is a top-rated seller (you should ALWAYS do this when online shopping).

4. Alibaba

The last member of the family tree, Alibaba is probably the low profile brother that sneakily sells a crazy crap ton quantity of everything for a cheaper price than everyone while everyone else thinks that they’re making the most money. Basically, wholesale.

Tips for Alibaba:

1. If you’re looking for a particular product, don’t search the name of the product. Instead, search the name of the Supplier instead, to check out all the manufacturers that specialise in that kind of product. That way, you won’t be swamped with all the products, and you’ll easily be able to find related products.
2. Watch out for MOQ – Minimum Order Quantity. Usually, these are negotiable. For example, a red sock is $1, and a white sock is $0.50. Even if the MOQ is 100, it’s possible that they’ll let you buy 50 red socks instead of 100, since the total price is the same for 100 white socks. It never hurts to try!
3. ONLY use Paypal or Escrow. When you do this, you get fairly good buyer protection and your money doesn’t get released to the seller until you get your product. This is to avoid getting sub-standard goods or suppliers that simply don’t ship – since they’ve already received your money.
4. Ask for samples before you place your 100s of orders!!