Alibaba Offers Glimpse of What’s to Come at 11.11 Festival

Alibaba on Thursday unveiled pre-sales activities for its 11.11 Global Shopping Festival, offering a glimpse of the interactive marketing promotions, “New Retail” experiences and new product offerings from around the world consumers can expect over the next three weeks.

Over 140,000 brands will participate in this year’s 11.11, offering promotions on 15 million-plus product listings. More than 60,000 international brands will be available to the more than half-billion Chinese consumers visiting Alibaba’s platforms.

The promotions and other activity announced Thursday are a prelude to November 11’s Single’s Day – the world’s largest single-day retail event – and tease what to expect from this year’s shopping extravaganza. Alibaba will offer more details at an 11.11 kickoff press conference in Shanghai on Oct. 31.

A year after Alibaba introduced its New Retail strategy, the e-commerce giant said the fusion of the online and offline shopping experiences will be further showcased this year, infusing physical retail elements in social media, interactive content and entertainment – all in one ecosystem, and at an unprecedented scale.

Initiatives include over one million merchants, who will use various online and offline integrations to enhance operations and create innovative consumer experiences. Over 1,000 brands will convert more than 100,000 physical locations into “smart stores” featuring a range of New Retail experiences, from browsing, shopping tours, virtual fitting rooms, payments and deliveries.

Another 600,000 local neighborhood convenience stores and 30,000 Rural Taobao Service Centers will participate in 11.11, using Alibaba’s one-stop solution to digitize their businesses and assist in merchandising and inventory management. Small merchants will partner with leading international brands, including Mondelez, Lay’s, Ferrero and P&G to serve over 100 million consumers.

Like last year, Alibaba also has plans to gameify the shopping festival. The Tmall Cat returns for the augmented reality game, “Catch the Cat,” allowing Chinese consumers to earn special promotion coupons and prizes when they find and scan the mascot with their Mobile Taobao app. Consumers will find Tmall Cats in thousands of retail stores, including Starbucks and KFCs, and in other key shopping areas around China.

This year, Tmall will, for the first time, bring over 100 Chinese brands overseas, targeting 100 million-plus overseas Chinese consumers in Asia and the rest of the world.

The unparalleled shopping activity on 11.11 requires even more-unparalleled logistics. Alibaba’s logistics network, Cainiao, expects over three million logistics personnel will be in force to handle the millions of packages generated during the 24-hour festival. Cainiao will invest over $200 million to help merchants and logistics partners to handled the anticipated heightened demand

The 11.11 Global Shopping Festival’s accompanying gala in Shanghai will be directed by Hollywood producer David Hill for the second year in a row, with celebrity appearances and performances livestreamed by Zhejiang TV, Beijing TV and Shenzhen TV.

Alibaba put 11.11 on the map – and calendar – as an event in China. The shopping festival began in 2009, with participation from 27 merchants as a way for merchants and consumers to raise awareness of online shopping. From those humble beginnings, last year’s event saw participation from 100,000 merchants, with consumers spending RMB 120.7 billion (USD 17.79 billion).