Chinese e-commerce behemoth Alibaba Group Holding Ltd unveiled its plans for Singles’ Day, the 24-hour online shopping extravaganza held Nov. 11 in China. Last year the event generated 91.217 billion yuan ($13.53 billion) in online marketplace sales for Alibaba, up 54% from the same date a year earlier.
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At a press conference in Hong Kong, with representatives from global brands including Macy’s Inc and Costco Wholesale Corp., Alibaba CEO Daniel Zhang said the shopping festival, which takes place on Nov. 11 has evolved far beyond a 24-hours sales event.
“From today through Nov. 11, consumers will discover, explore, play, watch, comment, share, recommends and shop across our entire ecosystem with our merchants both online and offline,” he said. “Leveraging our robust infrastructure, global merchants have been empowered with unprecedented capability to seamlessly engage and serve customers through new technology and new environments.” Alibaba expects 40,000 global merchants to participate in the Chinese shopping festival this year. That’s up from 27 merchants in 2009, the inaugural year of Singles’ Day.
Alibaba operates Taobao and Tmall, the dominant web marketplaces in China. Taobao is a
wide-open online bazaar that is open to any Chinese resident to sell goods. Higher-end Tmall attracts larger brands, including Target Corp., Apple Inc. and Dell Inc.
Singles’ Day Event
A big goal for Alibaba with this year’s Singles’ Day event is to bridge online and offline shopping. To support this initiative, from Nov. 1-11 Alibaba will pilot a virtual reality shopping program called “Buy+” in which Chinese shoppers will be virtually transported to international retail stores and can shop, select a product and pay through virtual reality platform. Consumers will be able to virtually browse products in stores of eight merchants in the U.S., Australia and Japan, including Macy’s and Costco. Alibaba’s Taobao marketplace is selling 150,000 virtual reality-enabled cardboard headsets for 1 yuan (US 15 cents) each at Taobao beginning Friday. To buy a product via virtual reality, a shopper uses the Taobao App and the cardboard headset to stare at the product she wants and make purchases with saved payment information.
Use of Augmented Reality
Alibaba also is introducing a location-based augmented reality mobile game at the end of this month to promote Singles’ Day. Consumers can follow the Tmall Cat mascot on an adventure across the Alibaba online marketplaces, and China-based retail stores and eateries to earn promotions and loyalties.
(Excerpts taken from: internetretailer.com)
What happened in India this season?
Flipkart’s Big Billion Day
This year’s festive season sales have proved to be largely successful for major online retailers, but Flipkart managed to reap maximum bang for its buck, banking on a low-profile marketing campaign to reap larger dividends than its rivals did.
Flipkart spent about half of what rivals such as Amazon India and Snapdeal did in promoting their recent sales events. In its 2-6 October Big Billion Days (BBD), Flipkart sold 15.5 million units and did sales of about Rs3,000 crore marginally edging out arch-rival Amazon India, which shipped 15 million units during a blockbuster sale that was easily the biggest showdown in the history of Indian e-commerce.
“This year’s BBD was very important for us, it was the third version, and compared to previous years, it’s far more competitive and other people are closer to us. So, it was important that in this year’s event, we re-stamp our authority as the No. 1 e-commerce player in India,” said Flipkart marketing chief Subandh.
Samardeep Subandh said three things worked wonders for Flipkart: a large-scale e-commerce awareness campaign that began in the month of July, successful advertising campaigns, exclusive tie-ups with top smartphone and apparel brands and the use of tools such as Facebook 360.
Flipkart is not done yet with sales this festive season, and has announced its ‘Big Diwali Sale’ starting October 25-28. The ‘TV and appliances festive sale’ will be active between October 21-28.
“What you have to also take into account is the fact that Flipkart would anyway have a larger base as compared to Amazon in India — Amazon has been around for only three years, but they are catching up fast. Now it remains to be seen how long Flipkart can maintain this lead — and whoever has the strongest backend, technology, the ability to process large number of orders, returns and can deliver consistently on that scale, will end up winning the battle in the long run,” said Kiran Khalap, co-founder and managing director at Chlorophyll Brand & Communications Consultancy Pvt. Ltd.
New Lease Of Life
The successful Big Billion Days has given Flipkart added momentum for the next 6-12 months and paves the way to raise more funds at desired valuations. Mint reported that Flipkart has already initiated talks to raise up to $1 billion in fresh funds.
One thing common between Flipkart and Alibaba is that both have to be wary of Amazon’s stride.
Amazon on Friday launched its Prime service in China, chasing the country’s growing ranks of online shoppers and their increasing demand for overseas goods. While in India, Prime was launched in the last days of July, it delivered and received orders from at least 97% serviceable pin codes across the country during the second leg of its festive season sale, the Great Indian Festival, while its best-selling Prime programme continued to grow rapidly. Unlike India, Amazon still remains a minor player in front of Alibaba in China. However, introduction of Prime will certainly increase its stakes in China.
India’s e-commerce race to be the ultimate winner is much closer than ever between Flipkart and Amazon. On the other hand, it’s a different story in China where with more than 800 million items listed on its websites, a huge payment network and delivery logistics in place, Alibaba commands more than 50% market share in the business to consumer (B2C) e-commerce market. Its nearest competitor is JD.com which is slowing making inroads in the Chinese e-commerce market and holds a market share of around 23.2 in the Chinese B2C market.