Alibaba’s 11.11 Singles Day shopping event is the largest one-day retailing festival in the world. The event takes place on November 11 and this year we will be using the best in artificial intelligence, personalisation, logistics and reach to create engaging and entertaining retail experiences – something we call “New Retail”.
Over 140,000 firms will be part of this year’s event and more than 60,000 international brands will be selling everything from authentic sports memorabilia to homewares to fresh foods to the increasingly large body of middle-class Chinese consumers.
The Chinese market has become particularly important for international brands to reach, as they realise the huge appetite among particularly younger Chinese consumers for international brands. At Alibaba, we’ve been able to build a platform where even those companies who do not have a physical presence in China can reach this huge market.
New Retail is a tech-supercharged seamless journey between the online and offline worlds. It’s not just about high street stores selling online – instead it’s about using technology to deliver unique and compelling experiences that Chinese consumers love. It’s also about transforming the world of bricks-and-mortar retailing.
For example, merchants can use artificial intelligence to personalise their offering, reaching the right customers at the right times. Pop-up stores in shopping malls can offer an immersive virtual reality experience with the chance for consumers to virtually try on clothes with “Magic Mirror” technology and be instantly alerted to relevant offers when nearby.
The 11.11 festivities have already started, as they did last year, with the See Now Buy Now fashion show that takes place on our Tmall marketplace. Audience members and millions of viewers across China were able to buy what they see on the catwalk in real-time via their mobiles, which is an example of how we bring entertainment, technology and shopping together.
During the festival, the entertainment continues through a range of mobile games that encourage shoppers to fill their carts. There will be a trivia contest where vouchers are released to customers speaking the right answers into their Tmall voice assistant, and a gala launch with numerous celebrities and production from Hollywood producer David Hill, known for his work on the Oscars, Super Bowl and American Idol.
The festival last year generated $17.8 billion (£13.59 billion) – two and a half times bigger than the reported size of Black Friday and Cyber Monday combined. At its peak last year, the 11.11 Singles Day saw 120,000 payment transactions processed every second.
Today’s consumers want an immersive, rich shopping experience, and retailers need to be at the forefront of this evolution in retailing. This year’s 11.11 Global Shopping Festival is an opportunity to showcase our technological innovation and turn shopping into a fun experience that captures consumers’ imaginations.
David Lloyd is the Managing Director of the UK/Ireland & Nordics for Alibaba Group