“This year marks the 10th anniversary of 11.11. On the back of China’s explosive digital transformation, the Festival’s astounding growth over the past decade has powered the steady rise in quality consumption sought by Chinese shoppers. The evolution also showcases the development of the Alibaba ecosystem over time, expanding well beyond e-commerce,” said Alibaba Group CEO Daniel Zhang.
Key Platforms, Partners Participating
Key businesses in the Alibaba ecosystem will offer hundreds of millions of consumers in and outside of China high-quality products, entertainment and fast, reliable services. Tmall will offer 500,000 items for pre-order from October 20, and customers can access promotional coupons via Mobile Taobao and Mobile Tmall.
This year, 180,000 brands from China and around the world will participate in 11.11. New this year, 200,000 smart stores in China across the apparel, fast-moving consumer goods, beauty products, automobile and home décor industries will help boost traffic to offline and online shopping destinations. Tmall Global provides 3,700 categories of imported goods from 75 countries and regions on its platform.
And from other parts of the ecosystem, Tmall World, AliExpress and Lazada will bring the event to hundreds of millions of overseas users. Lazada will host its first 11.11 Shopping Festival for customers in Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, Philippines and Vietnam.
New Retail Embraced by Brands and Consumers
Beyond pure shopping, this year’s festival will demonstrate how consumers and brands have come to embrace Alibaba’s New Retail, which melds the online and offline consumer retail experiences through technology.
“Two years ago, New Retail was first launched, and since then we have explored and embraced New Retail. Double 11 is a great opportunity to showcase our progress so far,” Zhang said. “Together with our merchant partners, we have elevated our capability to serve our customers and the shopping festival has become a leader in creating the kind of lifestyle our consumers want.”
Offline for 11.11, some 200,000 mom-and-pop stores powered by Alibaba’s Ling Shou Tong will provide online sales promotions and augmented reality-based red packets that offer discounts at 3,000 “Tmall Corner Stores.” Rural Taobao will also bring coupons to its services in 800 counties across 29 provinces in China.
Hema, Alibaba’s New Retail supermarket chain, will designate 11.11 signature stores, each featuring a number of promotions. And RT-Mart will complete the makeover of its nearly 400 stores, fully equipping them with New Retail capabilities.
Local Services, Entertainment on Display
Local services will be a focus of this year’s 11.11. Ele.me’s on-demand platform will provide delivery services for select Starbucks stores across 11 Chinese cities, including full-service coverage in Beijing and Shanghai. In addition, 150,000 Koubei merchant partners will offer half off on catering, beauty and hair salons and karaoke bars.
Entertainment is also going to be front-and-center for the festival. Tmall Collection’s “See Now, Buy Now” fashion show will be broadcast live on 10 platforms, including Taobao, Youku, Weibo and Toutiao on Oct. 20, starting at 6 p.m. in China. Millions of customers will have the chance to buy their favorite items on the spot and vote for their favorite looks to create a trend report. In addition, the signature countdown gala will be held on Nov. 10 in Shanghai’s Mercedes Benz Arena, featuring renowned stars.
Chance for Brands to Connect With Customers
Part of Alibaba’s mission, year-round, is to help brands connect with Chinese consumers. The Global Shopping Festival offers an opportunity for those brands to bring out new or special products for the market. Increasingly, those brands are employing a New Retail strategy or are working together with Alibaba and its analytics to identify tailored product opportunities, more-speedily bring them to market and track their popularity.
“We look forward to having more of our brand partners work with us in each of your best areas so together, we can strengthen and propel the growth of China’s consumer goods. By leveraging a digital platform driven by technology, we can turn innovation into reality more quickly and with fewer risks,” Tmall President Jet Jing said.
During 11.11, L’Oreal China is using retail pop-up stores with innovative, interactive technology across different Chinese cities to more-deeply engage customers, said its chief digital officer, Hagen Wuelferth.
“We are also using high technology by offering our consumers virtual mirrors using AR and AI technology, vending machines and more to make it easy and fun to buy our superior-quality products, and we’re offering online booking for offline hair styling at 135 salons across China for Kérastase,” said Wuelferth.
Brands said they rely on Alibaba’s robust ecosystem and analytics to maximize reach and ensure they’re giving consumers a rich and rewarding experience.
“At Hasbro, we have a strategy called ‘Share of Life,’ in which we want to use our content and IPs to impart in the different moments of the consumers’ lives to bring them more happiness. To do so, we leverage the different parts of the Alibaba ecosystem,” said Michael Zhang, general manager of Hasbro China. “We not only work with Tmall, but also Youku, Alifish [Alibaba’s licensing platform] and social media, like Weibo. Moreover, Alibaba provides us with consumer insights to help us to have a fully 360-degree engagement with our consumers in China.”
11.11 Heads Toward Its Second Decade
From the obscure “Single’s Day” holiday he chose from the Chinese calendar a decade ago, Zhang and Tmall have grown 11.11 into the world’s largest shopping event. The first, in 2009, brought in $7.8 million in gross merchandise value. Last year, GMV totaled $25.3 billion. In that same time period, China has seen its number of internet users surge to 802 million, with 98% of them on mobile. As 11.11 heads toward its second decade, Zhang said Alibaba is just getting started and still pursuing its dreams.
“We began with a small dream: To launch an online event. We didn’t expect it to magnify to today’s scale. We just held a belief that e-commerce will eventually change e-commerce, change lifestyles. We believed in this vision, so we began to experiment and to try — We see because we believe. We believe in the future of commerce, in the future of the digital economy,” Zhang said.
“In the past decade, we have gone through many changes and collected some great memories. But in grand scheme of things, this is just the beginning. In the next five to 10 years, surely the internet will change, and thus we will have to innovate new ways to serve our customers,” he said.
Adam Najberg is a writer at Alizilla, Alibaba’s online website.