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Japanese companies stoked for China's Singles Day

Some have prepped for months for world's biggest online shopping day

Shiseido is looking to significantly increase sales on China's Singles Day.   © Reuters

TOKYO -- Many Japanese makers of consumer goods are positioning themselves to cash in on China's Singles Day, as the Nov. 11 holiday for celebrating the single life has morphed into an online shopping extravaganza in recent years.

Major Chinese e-commerce company Alibaba Group Holding processed roughly 120 billion yuan ($18 billion in today's exchange rate) worth of online transactions on Singles Day last year. Japanese brands of cosmetics and other consumer goods proved to be extremely popular. Some Japanese companies garnered sales of tens of millions of dollars on that day alone.

This year, some Japanese companies plan to launch products and run aggressive sale promotions on China's leading online shopping sites, like those operated by Alibaba.

Companies like cosmetics maker Shiseido and sanitary goods manufacturer Unicharm hope to sell twice as much as they did last year. They are among the companies that have been building their inventories since the summer in preparation for the event.

Shiseido opened a popup store in Shanghai on Wednesday to exhibit its main offerings for this year's Singles Day. People living elsewhere can check what is going on inside the store via online video streaming.

Unicharm will introduce its top-of-the-line disposable diapers, made from organic materials, to the Chinese market on Singles Day.

Kao will offer limited-time sets of diapers and cosmetics for the event.

Trading house Itochu hired 3,500 temporary workers last year to handle the increased flow of goods at its Chinese distribution centers on Singles Day. This year, the number will be more than double to 7,500.

Some Japanese companies are moving to bring Singles Day to Japan as well.

Retail giant Aeon will run its first large-scale online sale in Japan for eight days starting Friday. Playing off the 11.11 Singles Day theme, it will offer products like a four-piece men's suit priced at 11,111 yen and 11 times the normal reward points for purchases. The products on sale include some 130,000 items from the supermarkets run by group company Aeon Retail.


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