London - 11.11, others known as Singles' Day, is set to leave Black Friday, Cyber Monday and even Amazon's Prime Day eating its dust, as becomes the leading online shopping bonanza. Occurring annually on November 11, Alibaba's shopping holiday is estimated to generate a record 158 billion yuan, 24 billion US dollars of sales this year according to Citigroup Inc. In 2016, Alibaba made just under 18 billion US dollars in sales and is keen to break this record this year.
Since its first event back in 2009, 11.11 has grown into an 24 hour shopping and entertainment festival, making it 18 times larger than Amazon's Prime day and 2.5 times bigger than Black Friday and Cyber Monday combined. Kicking off at midnight, the 9th consecutive online shopping festival is set to offer 15 million products from more than 140,000 brands on discount on Tmall. 60,000 international brands will also be participating in the discounting frenzy, as other online platforms such as rival JD.com, will also be offering their own sales in a bid to attract shoppers. Everything from beauty, to fashion, furniture and more will be on sale, as 11.11 is set to reach over 600 million customers.
Singles' Day 2017 now 2.5 times bigger than Black Friday and Cyber Monday combined
In order to appeal to a wider segment of shoppers, Alibaba has penned a number of strategic partnerships with luxury brands, such as Opening Ceremony, Jason Wu and Robert Geller. In addition, Alibaba has also tapped a number of international singers, such as Pharrell Williams, Jessie J and tennis star Maria Sharapova, to attend its 3rd 11.11 countdown gala, which engages with viewers in real time via mobile. For example, last year viewers were able to win clothing won by stars or collect the traditional Chinese 'red packets' via their smartphones while they watched the gala. Last year's countdown gala was followed by 400 million viewers, which is three times more than those who followed the US Super bowl this year.
Former president of Fox news and Emmy-winning veteran television producer David Hill is set to direct the countdown gala for the second year in a row, believes the show is part of 11.11 ongoing success when it comes to consumer engagement. "If you analyze why we are doing the show, it’s to turn shopping into sport and to make shopping into entertainment, so the show has got to reflect that philosophy," said Hill to Alizila, Alibaba’s own news site. "And the way the show is constructed—with so many segments, so many stars and fun bits—it reflects the overreaching theme of what Single’s Day has become. It is truly remarkable. We can do things in China we can’t do virtually anywhere else in the world. In America, if you stream to any more than one or two million people you get a swirling circle of death, meaning it’s not connecting. In China, we can stream to over 35 million people. It boggles the mind.”
This year's 11.11 is also the one year anniversary of the 'New Retail' strategy launched by Alibaba. As the e-commerce giant continues to grow, it aims to blur the boundaries between online and offline while digitizing the offline retail world. It's leading supermarket concept Hema is a leading example of this, but the Chinese company is keen to generate more new retail formats, which is why it has partnered with 52 shopping malls in 12 cities to launch 60 pop-up 'iStores' for international brands such as Estée Lauder. These iStores offer technological features, such as facial recognition-powered payment solutions, scan-and-deliver 020 shopping features as well as AR beauty tutorials. Overall, 1,000 brands, including Gap, Vero Moda and C&A in 334 cities will convert their stores into to 100,000 iStore locations for 11.11.
But that is not all Alibaba has up its sleeve for 11.11. In order to help boost its popularity outside of China, Tmall is set to bring more than 100 domestic Chinese brands, such as Peacebird, Haier and Gree to international markets, targeting millions over Chinese shoppers living abroad.
Photos: Courtesy of Alibaba