After their Thursday Thanksgiving turkeys, football and naps, millions of Americans will turn their attention to another annual ritual, Black Friday, with a rush of door-busting deals for bargain-hungry consumers from midnight onward.
But as U.S. consumers descend on their retailers’ bricks-and-mortar stores, stuffing gaming consoles, home decor and apparel into their carts, Chinese consumers will get some of the same bargains from the same retailers with just a few taps on their mobile phones.
Tmall Global, Alibaba Group’s cross-border e-commerce platform, for the first time has partnered with several U.S. brands, including Macy’s, Costco and Target to launch the “Same Products, Same Time, Same Price, Same Black Friday” campaign. Starting with a pre-sale that launched on Monday and lasting through this coming Sunday, Chinese consumers have the opportunity to purchase select products for the same prices at which they’re sold offline on Black Friday in the U.S.
“We want to give Chinese consumers access to unique brands, unique products and a unique shopping experience during the Black Friday shopping holiday, as well as help international merchants to boost their branding power and sales in China,” said Alvin Liu, head of Tmall Global. “This campaign is another opportunity for Alibaba to do that.”
Watch this video to see how international merchants build brand power among Chinese consumers.
Tmall Global’s promotion comes barely two weeks after Alibaba completed its massive 11.11 Global Shopping Festival, which generated $17.79 billion in gross merchandise volume. But a craving for discounted goods—one of the main drivers behind 11.11—continues in China, especially when those goods come from overseas markets. According to digital-marketing researcher eMarketer, cross-border e-commerce in China will reach $85.8 billion this year, up 50 percent from $57.13 billion in 2015. By 2020, the figure is expected to hit $157.7 billion, with more than a quarter of the country’s population of about 1.4 billion purchasing overseas products online.
The Black Friday sale on Tmall Global will be more than a simple click-and-buy affair. The company will continue its focus on interactivity and consumer engagement during the promotion, just as it did for 11.11 earlier this month. Visitors to Tmall Global will shop in a virtual city and visit the flagship stores of some participating merchants, such as Saks Fifth Avenue, Skechers and Procter & Gamble, where they can win further discounts on their purchases. Some non-U.S. brands are also taking part, including London-based Sainsbury and South Korea’s LG, with about 1,000 merchants participating in total. Consumers will also see a side-by-side price comparison on the product page showing that they’re receiving the same discounts in China as consumers get in the brands’ home markets.
Live-streaming, which has proved to be an important marketing strategy this year for brands selling into China, will feature prominently during the Black Friday promotion. Tmall Global is planning a live countdown to Black Friday’s midnight launch that will show the crowds forming at Macy’s flagship offline store in New York’s Herald Square, as well as rebroadcast parts of its famous Thanksgiving Day parade. Also, Tmall Global’s homepage will go black at midnight U.S. time in honor of the shopping holiday, and Chinese consumers will be able to view night scenes from different countries by moving their mobile phones around.
Businesses in Alibaba’s ecosystem have been eyeing the cross-border opportunities presented by Black Friday in recent years. Last year, Alipay, the online payments platform run by Alibaba-affiliated company Ant Financial Services Group, facilitated overseas sales for Chinese consumers. Similar to Tmall Global’s promotion, brands such as Bloomingdale’s, Neiman Marcus, GNC and Oscar de la Renta offered those consumers discounts on purchases and offering free shipping on as many as 130,000 orders.