Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group on Thursday introduced a new tier to its 88 Membership program. Called “88VIP,” it offers exclusive rewards and experiences across Alibaba’s ecosystem to top shoppers.
The upgrade, the latest move in Alibaba’s New Retail push, will create a seamless customer experience across its platforms, and both online and offline, according to a statement. 88VIP members will be entitled to annual memberships for popular Alibaba-owned platforms, including video-streaming hub Youku, on-demand delivery service Ele.me, movie-ticketing platform Taopiaopiao and music-streaming app Xiami. The company said the program will drive increased consumer loyalty and engagement by offering even more incentives for members to live, shop and have fun, all within the Alibaba ecosystem.
The Ultimate All-in-One Loyalty Program
Total benefits are valued at up to nearly RMB 2,000 (about $290) per 88VIP member per year, Alibaba said.
Throughout the year, even during the company’s 11.11 mega-sale, 88VIP members will get 5% off when shopping on Alibaba’s online grocery channel, Tmall Supermarket, as well as the flagship stores of participating 88 local and international brands on Alibaba’s e-commerce sites Tmall and Taobao, including fashion, beauty and lifestyle brands Versace, Tag Heuer, Gap, L’Oreal and retailers Watsons and Mannings.
“With the introduction of New Retail, customers are more engaged, both online and offline,” said said Chris Tung, chief marketing officer at Alibaba Group. “The decision to have an exclusive membership tier is not just about rewarding our most-active members, it’s also about building an all-around experience our customers can enjoy every day.”
“The move exemplifies why we launched our membership program in the first place: to provide our customers with not just goods, but also a better lifestyle,” Tung added. “We want our ‘88VIP’ members to enjoy the best shopping discounts, the most-entertaining content and the most-reliable local services Alibaba can offer.”
Upgrading to 88VIP
“Super Members,” who are users with over 1,000 loyalty points in the company’s current program, can opt in to the tier upgrade for a discounted price of RMB 88, while members with fewer than 1,000 points (and have made a purchase in the past 12 months) can sign up for the upgrade for RMB 888. Loyalty points are earned not just by making purchases, but also by increasing engagement on the platform.
To earn more consumer points, consumers are encouraged to shop across more categories, leave reviews and interact with other users on Alibaba’s sites. The company said its ecosystem is not only about transactions, but about offering shoppers the opportunities to discover trends, consume entertaining content and build communities.
“The new ‘88VIP’ Membership club offers more than a discount. It’s an exclusive invitation to a lifestyle for the consumer and a way to reward those who value the Alibaba ecosystem the most,” said Deborah Weinswig, CEO of retail think tank Coresight Research.
The new upgrade can help brands strengthen relationships with their top shoppers, especially through exclusive perks such as giving them the priority to new collections and offline experiences, said Duan Ling, head of 88 Membership operations at Alibaba.
“For brands, our customer-loyalty program allows them to more deeply engage with young consumers and high-spending users—both key groups that brands are looking to reach,” said Duan.
In August last year, the company introduced the 88 Membership program as a single membership club for loyalty members of both Tmall and Taobao Marketplace, to ratchet up the shopping experience for its 500 million users, while also leveraging consumer insight to better connect brands with club members.
“88” is pronounced “BABA” in Chinese, which is also Alibaba’s ticker on the New York Stock Exchange.