Taobao Tips and Tricks #1: Singles’ Day Hacks

by Evelyn S.,

Concordia Applied Journalism

The leaves are turning golden, and the air is cool and crisp. Fall is in full swing.

What’s more, fall is the season of sales! Sure, you know about Black Friday. But are you familiar with its bigger, better, Chinese counterpart? Singles’ Day is China’s – and the world’s – largest shopping holiday. And it’s right around the corner: November 11.

Eleanor Chan, a high school senior, is ready for November 11. “I know about shuang shi yi!” she said, referencing the Chinese phrase for Singles’ Day. Eleanor admits to being a little more than enthusiastic about making some purchases. How many? “Um… probably more than ten,” she admits.

High school English teacher Mrs. Furth has yet to explore Taobao, but is intrigued by it.

High school English teacher Mrs. Furth has yet to explore Taobao, but is intrigued by it.

But is everyone this keen? When asked whether she knew about Singles’ Day, high school English teacher Mrs. Furth shook her head. “No, not at all,” she said.

Alibaba, the monolithic company behind Taobao, created the Singles’ Day shopping holiday in 2009. According to Facebook IQ, the website’s research branch, “[Alibaba] picked November 11 and in China young singles celebrate by treating themselves with gifts, sort of a remedy to Valentine’s Day.” Now, Singles’ Day has grown to dwarf Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

The total amount of money spent on Singles’ Day 2016 is staggering.  (image credit:    The Drum   )

The total amount of money spent on Singles’ Day 2016 is staggering. (image credit: The Drum)


Although you can expect massive discounts, you’ll also be fighting with 1.3 billion potential shoppers to get them over a short 24 hours. Here are some tips to survive the madness that is Singles’ Day!

Tip #1: Pay attention to Singles’ Day pre-sales

Starting around the end of October, stores will begin hyping up their products for Singles’ Day. Often there will be a colorful label on Tmall products, signaling a presale or discount on the day of 11/11.

Here are some examples of labels, which are circled in yellow:

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If you’re searching for something beforehand, you can filter the results to show items with Singles’ Day discounts. Again, the place you should tap on your phone is circled in yellow.

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“I have everything ready to go in my shopping cart already,” says Eleanor. “I’m just waiting for the 11th!” Make sure to add items you want to your shopping cart beforehand, so you can just check everything out when Singles’ Day arrives.

Tip #2: Take your coupons

Singles’ Day coupons can seem tricky. “I’m too unintelligent to use coupons,” Rae Lee, a freshman, jokes. But they’re not as complicated as they look.

For some items in your shopping cart, you might notice a few characters in the top-right corner - “领劵”, or “take your coupon”.

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Tap it, and you’ll see various discounts, written in orange (in this case, 5, 50, 30, or 20rmb). Underneath the coupons, you’ll see another number underlined in red - this is the amount you must spend to get the discount.

For the coupon circled in yellow, you can get a 20rmb discount if you spend 2,088 rmb.

Tip #3: Allowances and discounts across stores

You might notice this message above some of your shopping cart items:

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The top message means that “If you reach 400 rmb across participating stores, you’ll get 50 rmb off.”

The bottom one translates to “If you reach 200 rmb across participating stores, you’ll get 20 rmb off.”

These discounts apply across multiple stores that participate. However, you must “collect” your discount money, like an allowance.

To get allowance money, you have to trade your Tmall points – which you earn from previous purchases. This allowance money is actually used as your discount. For example, since certain stores allow a 50 rmb discount for every 400 you spend, if you collected 100 rmb of discount money, you would have to spend at least 800 to use it all. If you collected 150, you’d have to spend at least 1200 to use it all.

So don’t collect too much allowance, or you’ll have to spend a lot of money to make use of all of it.

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If you’re using your computer, click here for the Singles’ Day event homepage on Tmall. Click the button circled in yellow to go to the allowance webpage.


Click the yellow button on the bottom-left of the pop-up, and you’ll trade 10 points for a 10-rmb allowance. Click the purple button at the bottom-right, and you’ll trade 50 points for a 60-100 rmb allowance, depending on how lucky you get! You can click the buttons multiple times too.

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Here is an accumulated allowance of 380 rmb.

You can also find out whether your allowance can be used on specific products. Just search for the product (ie “枕头套”, or pillowcases) before or during Singles’ Day. You might notice a bar like the one in the left screenshot, circled in yellow. Tap it to filter the search results products that let you use your allowance.

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Allowances are only valid on November 11, so wait until that day to check everything out.

Hopefully, these tips have prepared you to face Singles’ Day!

Rae, for instance, is already excited. “Singles’ Day is Pepero day in Korea,” she explains. (Pepero is a Korean cookie-stick snack.) “It’s a Korean tradition to buy Pepero for your friends or your crush. I’m going to buy so many.”

Happy shopping, Concordia!


Evelyn S. is a careful consumer who loves to chat about Taobao with other savvy shoppers. She is also the writer/illustrator behind Chasing Little Lights.

Citizen.C Concordia