For the last six years, Alibaba Group has monitored the progress of its giant 24-hour online sale, the 11.11 Global Shopping Festival, from a “war room” at the company headquarters in Hangzhou, China. This year, the company is spreading the excitement around by moving the event to the mainland’s beating heart of Beijing – and adding a star-studded gala to be televised from the city’s iconic Water Cube on the eve of the Nov. 11 sale.
“Beijing is the capital city, it has the greatest influence on China and the world,” explained Alibaba CEO Daniel Zhang, who announced the move at the kick-off ceremony of the 2015 11.11 Global Shopping Festival last week in Hangzhou. Alibaba this year plans to draw more international merchants and shoppers to the event as part of a strategy to build up the e-commerce titan’s global business.
Beijing, a megacity of 20 million people, is a business hub and hothouse for tech and e-commerce companies. Holding the event there will help showcase Alibaba’s strengths to the world. “Beijing will be a good start and focal point for our long journey of globalization,” Zhang said. Alibaba has also been investing to bolster its Beijing operations in areas such as online grocery and consumer electonics sales, planning to use the city as a foundation to build up e-commerce in northern China, where penetration and support infrastructure is less developed than it is in the country’s southeastern provinces. Alibaba says it hopes to bring a better e-shopping experience to some 400 million customers in northern China.
In addition, on the eve of the sale, the company is hosting a four-hour countdown gala in China’s National Aquatics Center, known as the Water Cube, where the Beijing 2008 Olympics swimming competitions took place. The gala will be staged by noted Chinese film director Feng Xiaogang and televised by Hunan TV, and can be viewed on TVs, PCs and mobile devices.
The gala will feature international stars, singing and dancing, interactive games and mobile shopping to warm up shoppers for 11.11. During live broadcast, viewers can qualify for discounts on items such as overseas travel packages and smart home appliances by shaking smartphones equipped with Taobao or Tmall apps. Alibaba is inviting shoppers around the country to attend the event by giving away tickets through Tmall’s Weibo page and the Tmall app starting in late October.
More than 40,000 merchants and 30,000 brands, including some 5,000 international brands from 25 countries and regions, will participate in 11.11 Global Shopping Festival this year, offering six million products, according to Alibaba.
(Readers in China can watch videos of the 11.11 event by clicking here.)