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Regulating Singles Day to make it better

Updated: Nov 11,2021 21:11    China Daily

Online e-commerce portals offer huge discounts on goods and services to promote sales on Singles Day. But unlike the Nov 11 sales gala in previous years when e-commerce platforms competed with each other to attract both merchants and consumers, this year it is the merchants that are trying to open outlets on various platforms, giving consumers a range of choices.

The development has much to do with the State Administration for Market Regulation issuing a directive on Nov 10, 2020, to strengthen the regulation and monitoring of e-commerce giants, in order to prevent them from abusing their monopoly. The directive forbidding platforms from asking merchants to open exclusive outlets on their platforms came into effect in February.

This is just one of the measures to regulate the market. Earlier, all major e-commerce platforms allowed consumers to place orders up to midnight, in order to boost sales. This year, however, the deadline has been brought forward by four hours, so that consumers do not need to stay up late. Also, thanks to effective regulation, outlets are not bombarding consumers with text messages advertising their products this year.

With all these measures in place, Singles Day might return to being what it was originally meant to be — merchants promoting sales by offering huge discounts while ensuring that the rights and interests of consumers and small and medium-sized enterprises were protected. Such an online market will also facilitate the long-term prosperity of the digital economy. And instead of competing with each other in a way that's detrimental to all, e-commerce platforms will be able to expand their market and improve their services.

Official data show China's digital economy was worth 39.2 trillion yuan ($6.13 trillion) in 2020, accounting for 38.6 percent of the total GDP. But despite the Singles Day sales volume being a direct indicator of the digital economy's strength, the yearly online shopping gala needs to be regulated to help it prosper further.