After five years away from Hangzhou, we’re back at Alibaba Group’s Xixi headquarters for the 2019 11.11 Global Shopping Festival! As always, we’ll be covering the entire event, start to finish, with this live blog. Bookmark the page so you can follow along as we offer real-time takes on the annual Countdown Gala, the midnight kickoff, insights from brands and experts, the final results and everything in between. You can also follow us on our social-media accounts: Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn. And media can find any resources they may need here.
Monday, Nov. 11, 2019
Just one final story to come, but that’s a wrap for the live blog for 2019. Thanks for reading!
The final number is in! The total GMV for the Alibaba’s 2019 11.11 Global Shopping Festival is RMB 268.4 billion, or $38.4 billion in USD. That’s up 26% year-on-year.
“I am very confident that Lazada will set a brand-new record,” said Pierre Poignant, CEO of Lazada Group, as he and his team at the company’s Singapore office connected with the Media Center audience via webcam. Poignant said he was excited to bring 11.11 and new, innovative shopping experiences to consumers in Southeast Asia.
Lazada Co-President Yin Jing said that they have tapped livestreaming, interactive games and the Lazada 11.11 Super Show, which aired on the eve of Lazada’s 11.11 shopping festival, to generate excitement. “This year, both buyers and merchants have more than doubled and we’ve already seen a series of record-breaking moments. We’re looking forward to sharing even more good news.”
Speaking at the Media Center at the company’s Hangzhou headquarters, Alibaba Chief Technology Officer Jeff Zhang described 11.11 as an airplane flying at turbo speed, only this year it has a brand new engine: having moved its core systems onto the cloud, significantly boosting the computing performance underpinning the shopping festival.
Zhang said the company’s Apsara operating system is overseeing tens of thousands of servers at once, diverting computing power to different servers when they need it most, such as to payment and transaction systems at the very start of the shopping day, when the clock strikes midnight on Nov. 11 “Everything from orders made on the platform to delivery volumes, all of these analytics are processed on Apsara.”
This year, they saw major breakthroughs in database technology and artificial-chip development, such as developing “Hanguang 800,” Alibaba’s first AI inference chip, said Zhang. Though the chip hasn’t been widely deployed this 11.11, he expects that a large number of AI applications would run on their chips next year.
The number of delivery orders so far for this year has surpassed the total number of delivery orders from 2018 11.11.
Brands big and small have gathered in Hangzhou, including San Francisco-based sustainable shoemaker Allbirds. We caught up with their president of international Erick Haskell (seen below), on the brand’s first 11.11.
“We participated in 11.11 for the same reason we’ve launched on Tmall. Quite frankly, Chinese consumers are on Tmall, so for us, as a relatively new brand, it is important for us to be where those consumers are,” said Haskell.
“Really having that opportunity as a relatively new, unknown brand to get in front of such a large number of consumers and tell your brand story has been super important, and so far very rewarding,” he said.
Tmall also offers them opportunities to learn and adapt to the China market, he said, adding that Chinese consumers have provided unique feedback they have not received in any other markets, such as the wool toppings making the insoles too warm. The brand said operating on a direct-to-consumer model helps them quickly adapt to new consumer needs, and their R&D team was able to immediately create new iterations of the product based on that feedback.
Haskell said that – the last he checked their 11.11 sales this morning – 80% of consumers are new to the brand.
“I think that highlights what was so important to us,” he said. “11.11 is confirming the fact that when we’re able to get out there and tell the story, consumers really do embrace the brand and what it stands for, and they embrace all aspects of the brand. They embrace the comfort, the minimal design and the sustainability around them.”
Total GMV for the 2019 11.11 Global Shopping Festival has exceeded RMB213.5 billion, surpassing the total GMV of 2018 11.11.
Total GMV has exceeded US$30 billion for this year’s 11.11.
As new GMV milestones continued to roll in, this morning we spoke to executives from L’Oréal, Mondelēz and Nestlé about their experience partnering with Alibaba’s Tmall Innovation Center and this year’s 11.11.
Stéphane Wilmet, chief customer officer at L’Oréal, said the demands of increasingly savvy Chinese consumers have helped drive innovation for the company. In September, L’Oréal tapped TMIC’s consumer insights to create a new product, the Revita Lift Cream, he said.
“Chinese consumers are so sophisticated. They are so well informed that the bar is set very high,” said Wilmet. “We make sure we know what shoppers want. The best way to do that is through TMIC … It is clear that Chinese consumers, male and women, would like to upgrade their lifestyles, and 11.11 is a really great moment to engage with them.”
Here more from L’Oréal’s Stéphane Wilmet and other brands about the power of TMIC:
Snack giant Mondelēz, which owns Oreo, has teamed up with TMIC to develop mini-Oreos with assorted nuts and dried fruit (see below), tailored to the growing healthy snack trend in China – partnering from ideation, prototyping to piloting them in real consumer environments.
“Chinese consumers always want more and more variety in snack choices. We want to provide healthy and quality products to consumers when they have snack moments,” said Star Hu, manager of the New Innovations Platform at Mondelēz. While developing a new product typically takes one to five years, this latest collaboration with TMIC took only 150 days, added Hu.
China still ranks relatively low in coffee consumption on a per-capita basis, compared to markets such the U.S., but the trend is catching on, especially in certain consumer groups, according to Serena Yang, director of the Nestlé-Alibaba Cooperation division at Nestlé.
Yang said TMIC insights into consumers within Alibaba’s ecosystem has helped them uncover a new consumer group, which before the collaboration, they never knew existed: Fitness consumers who regularly drink black coffee before workouts. This discovery soon became an important growth driver for Nestlé, she said, adding that it has led to a cross-brand collaboration with athletic clothing brand Under Armour that helped drive rapid growth for its black coffee product.
Did we mention Taylor Swift performed at last night’s 11.11 Countdown Gala??? The mega-star sang three of her hits: “ME!” and “Lover” and “You Need to Calm Down.” Here are some shots from her time on stage:
The number of delivery orders for this year’s 11.11 has already surpassed the total in 2017.
Not long after 10 a.m. today, GMV for this year’s 11.11 reached RMB168.2 billion, exceeding that of the 2017 11.11.
Another significant 11.11 milestone was reached at about 6:30 this morning, when GMV reached US$20 billion.
Now, 2016’s GMV is in the rear view.
It took just 61 minutes and 32 seconds to surpass total GMV from 2015.
An hour in and we’ve crossed $12 billion.
Also as of 1 a.m., the following were the top 10 countries/regions selling to China during 11.11 by total GMV:
We’ve hit $10 billion!
We surpassed 2014!
The first of this year’s 11.11 milestones is in:
Many more to come. Stay tuned!
Sunday, Nov. 10, 2019
While most livestreaming platforms in the West are focused on gaming and entertainment, in China, it is a go-to option for consumers to seek out new products, as well as ask questions and engage with their favorite livestream hosts — an essential part of the discovery journey. We caught up with top Chinese livestreamer Viya Huang (in the photo above, left) for a brief interview at her Hangzhou studio in between broadcasts to chat more about what will be her fourth 11.11.
Huang said that this year she is recommending a wider variety of products than before, promoting her favorite deals from cars and five-star hotel vouchers to movie tickets. Last week, she also worked with Kim Kardashian West to help sell her perfume brand KKW to Chinese consumers for the first time.
“Our livestream studio features celebrity appearances from time to time, and my fans really enjoy it,” said Huang. “Our recent session with Kim Kardashian was for her fragrance brand, which was making its Asia debut through my livestream studio. Everyone was excited about this. I even invited her to a game of mahjong the next time she comes to China.”
Zhao Yang, head of Taobao Livestreaming, said this year’s 11.11 shopping festival is even more fun and playful, with more brands now experimenting with livestreaming in ever-more creative ways.
“This year, people will discover that they can not only shop, but also play,” Zhao said. “And naturally, social communication has become an important part of the shopping experience. We’ll see a larger variety of hosts: Everyone from company CEOs, celebrities, influencers to designers and product managers are all walking into livestream studios.”
Halfway through the show, the audience went crazy when the coaches and champions of “Street Dance of China,” a popular reality series on Alibaba’s video-streaming platform Youku, took to the stage. Then were later joined by world-renowned dance crews The Royal Family and Kinjaz in a spectacular dance-battle performance on a moving, LED stage.
The show has also featured interactive games for the audience at home. Watching on the Youku mobile app, viewers could vote to see which teams on stage would win competitions, such as human Tetris and human Candy Crush (seen above). There was also a whack-a-mole game that featured, not moles, but Alibaba’s animal mascots. Viewers had the chance to win cash vouchers to redeem during 11.11.
Still to come, though, is Taylor Swift. She’s expected to perform three songs tonight, with the first at about 11:10 p.m.
Tonight’s 11.11 Countdown Gala Celebration – broadcasting live from the Shanghai Mercedes-Benz Arena, starting at 7:30 p.m. local time – would be the first time the four-plus-hour variety show had a truly global audience: streaming to 106 countries and regions worldwide, from Southeast Asia and North America to Europe and Africa.
Now in its fifth year, the Gala is known for its eclectic mix of celebrity, music, games and interactivity. In previous years, guests have included former James Bond actor Daniel Craig, Mariah Carey, Maria Sharapova, Miranda Kerr and Kobe Bryant. This year, American singer-songwriter Taylor Swift is slated to perform.
Robert Lin, the producer of the Gala and vice president of Youku, said that the event would also tap cutting-edge stage technology, such as moving platforms and interactive LED floors. It would be “a gala made for the internet age,” Lin said.
“While traditional galas may focus on lineups and stage design, for us, it’s more important to think about how can we interact with and meet the demands of the audience,” he said.
Conventional gala events tend to be a one-way process, largely driven by the director’s creative vision, but Lin said he wanted to strike a balance between the art direction and what users love to watch.
Youku and Alibaba Cloud rallied about 300 technical staff to support this year’s 4K high-definition streaming and multi-screen interactions. For example, as they watch the show on TV, the audience can tune into a parallel livestreaming session on Taobao or play interactive games on their smartphones to win perks or help boost the points of their favorite celebrity when they are taking on a challenge.
“No one has really defined what makes an ‘internet gala,’ but we understand it to be highly interactive, with the user is at its center. We consider what the Gala can bring to our users and how to better satisfy their needs,” said Lin.
As part of the event, Youku also invited 41 celebrities to help promote agricultural produce of poverty-stricken regions throughout China, including the pianist Lang Lang and teen sensation Jackson Yee, of Chinese boy band TFBoys. Some of these celebrities will appear on a dedicated livestream show, streaming alongside the Gala, aimed at boosting sales for these farmers.
L’Oréal has been selling on Alibaba’s e-commerce platforms for nearly a decade. In that time, they’ve grown from using Tmall and Taobao and Cainiao to many other parts of our ecosystem, including Tmall Supermarket, Tmall Innovation Center and all of the highly sophisticated marketing tools that Alibaba offers to brands. Anyone who wants to understand just what it takes to enter and thrive in the Chinese market would do well to listen to a seasoned veteran like L’Oréal. Alizila recently had the pleasure of sitting down with Eileen Zong, the brand general manager of L’Oréal Paris in China. She walked us through the brand’s preparations for 11.11, as well as how her team leverages the Alibaba ecosystem to target and engage Chinese consumers. Read our interview here. And check out our video highlights below:
More than an opportunity to stock up on clothes, furniture and gadgets, 11.11 is also a platform to connect rural farmers across China with urban shoppers.
Such is the case with goji-berry farmers in Qinghai Province’s Nuomuhong. In the past few months, about 60,000 people have gathered in the small town in China’s northwestern desert to harvest goji berries ahead of 11.11. Nuomohong has transformed in the past decade from a scarcely populated patch of land to the home of many entrepreneur-farmers who have benefited from selling their crops on the internet.
Alibaba is also currently working with 1,000 agricultural farmlands in China, helping farmers leverage its technology to digitize their businesses, such as dragon fruit farmers in Hainan Province who are now “using their phones to farm.” Learn more about their story here:
Speaking of offline excitement, Chinese hypermarket RT-Mart began its 11.11 promotions on Saturday. (Alibaba owns a 36% stake in RT-Mart parent Sun Art Retail Group.) About 5,000 items were going at half price. Look at these photos! One of our colleagues in the U.S. called it “Black Friday-esque.” And to most Americans, scenes of retail shelves picked clean by bargain shoppers most likely would conjure thoughts of that annual holiday-season sale. But just to put things in context: Thanksgiving Day to Black Friday to Cyber Monday – even Small Business Saturday and Super Sunday – generated $24.2 billion in online revenues last year, according to Adobe. 11.11, meanwhile, brought in $30.8 billion in gross merchandise volume – in just 24 hours.
The excitement is felt as much offline as it is online, with Intime Malls packed with crowds hoping to get in on 11.11 deals. This year, the Chinese department store chain, which has been partnering with Alibaba on New Retail transformation, has powered up its 11.11 celebrations with events such as an interactive fashion show in Xi’an City and advanced technology, including cloud-based point-of-sale machines — handheld devices that staff can use allow consumers to pay where they are at, instead of having to queue up at a cashier — or its new digital warehouse system that act as centralized conduits for smart inventory, packaging and delivery to shoppers. Check out some of their latest technologies here:
Of course, 11.11 officially kicks off at midnight tonight, but pre-sales for the world’s largest shopping day began on Oct. 21. In the two weeks since, there’s been a lot of activity for both brands and consumers before the clock reads 00:00 — in just under 11 hours! We’ve collected 11 fun pre-event facts for this 11th 11.11:
Brands and media are all converging here at Alibaba’s Xixi campus to mark the 11th 11.11. Brands have set up “war rooms” here on campus, while reporters will gather in our media center to watch the big day kick off and the results roll in. And Aliren are working furiously to finish final details before the midnight launch. Needless to say, campus is buzzing! Here’s a look at some of the fun that’s been happening at Xixi in the run-up to this year’s 11.11. If you’re media, you can find all of our 11.11 photos here. Just 12 hours to go — make it happen!!