As expected, Alibaba’s “Double 11” 11.11. Global Shopping Day extravaganza set a record for one-day e-commerce extravaganza.
The Chinese owner of Tmall.com and Taobao posted sales of US$25.3 billion (RMB168.2 billion) of gross merchandise volume (GMV) through Alipay on November 11, 2017, an increase of 39% compared to 2016’s event, which tallied US$17.8 billion (RMB120.7 billion). This year’s sales event hit $8.6 billion in sales in the first hour and passed 2016’s tally by noon.
WATCH: Highlights From the 2017 11.11 Global Shopping Festival pic.twitter.com/SiuK2BvwdP
— Alibaba Group (@AlibabaGroup) November 11, 2017
“More than US$25 billion of GMV in one day is not just a sales figure,” said Alibaba Group CEO Daniel Zhang. “It represents the aspiration for quality consumption of the Chinese consumer, and it reflects how merchants and consumers alike have now fully embraced the integration of online and offline retail.”
The biggest 24-hour shopping and entertainment festival on the planet, 11.11 is 18 times bigger than Amazon Prime Day and 2.5 times larger than Black Friday and Cyber Monday combined, says Alibaba. This year, more than 15 million products from more than 140,000 top brands and merchants were up for grabs on Tmall.com.
More brands than ever stepped up digital efforts to increase customer engagement leading into 11.11. Some, including Pizza Hut, took part in the Catch the Cat augmented-reality game, which entertained customers and offered them discount coupons for items purchased during 11.11. Others, like Nike, took part in an interactive trivia game that Alibaba launched on its Tmall and Taobao apps.
“Today, we live in a connected world with everything on demand,” said Dennis Van Oossanen, vice president of Nike Direct Greater China. “Consumers respond to brands that serve them in their way, at their pace and in their lives.”
Alibaba and brand partners also helped drive online traffic to brick-and-mortar stores via pop-up smart stores and in-store technology, further erasing the boundaries between the two. Maybelline featured technology that allowed customers to try on lipstick virtually, and a denim pop-up smart store let customers use a virtual fitting room to see how they’d look in the item they selected and made ordering easier.
Other key collaborations with brands this year included cosmetic giant L’Oreal, which generated excitement in the run-up to 11.11 by live-streaming a 360-degree view of a fashion show on the Champs-Élysées in Paris, exclusively on Tmall.
L’Oreal also was involved in Alibaba’s branded smart pop-up stores that spanned China from Oct. 31-Nov. 11 this year, while Levi’s, Lee, Gap and Calvin Klein also sponsored pop-up stores.
“I’ve talked with a lot of brand partners, and all of them recognize the importance of good sales. But more importantly, they know 11.11 isn’t just about sales. It’s about consumer engagement and brand-building,” Zhang commented. “Success on 11.11 comes because every participant contributes the best resources, the best products and the best services to customers on that day.”
Setting the Stage
Snack foods giant Mondelez took part in a digital makeover for mom-and-pop shops in China, Ling Shou Tong, also known by its acronym LST. Mondelez leveraged consumer insights gleaned from these corner shops to supply them with the products most likely to sell, which boosts the topline for both the brand and the store itself.
“Everybody wins,” said Stephen Maher, president of Mondelez China. “The consumer get the product they love, the retailer gets the profit from the sale, and we get to satisfy yet another consumer.”
In the spirit of this year’s 11.11 theme, “retail as entertainment,” the snacking giant in May launched in partnership with Tmall its special-edition Oreo Music Box 2.0, a cardboard-box record player that changes its tune each time somebody takes a bite out of the “record”— an Oreo cookie that sits on top of the player. The 20,000 limited-edition music boxes on offer sold out in 12 hours.
Alibaba also built a foundation for 11.11 with a campaign to promote its vision of “New Retail” and a consistent outreach to woo sellers and consumers in the U.S., Canada, Australia and other markets this year.
For the second year in a row, Alibaba offered its most-loyal customers and viewers a gala that featured international and Chinese stars, such as Pharrell Williams, Nicole Kidman, Jessie J, Maria Sharapova, LeBron James and Zhang Ziyi. Pharrell performed a song titled “Double 11” — above — with Kris Wu for the televised spectacular, while Jessie J performed her hit, the appropriately-titled “Price Tag.”
The variety show production included other entertainers and giveaways of “red envelopes,” reflecting the traditional Chinese gift of money in red packets or lai see.
While still a relatively small part of 11.11, Alibaba’s expansion of efforts to bring more stores and retail consumers online – even down to the “mom-and-pop” convenience store and the village level – means a broadening of its reach across China and its consumer base.
See Now, Buy Now
Alibaba again held a “See Now, Buy Now” fashion show to create buzz ahead of 11.11, broadcasting over seven platforms on Oct. 31 and offering viewers on each an innovative way to place an immediate pre-order for items they saw on the runway. Brands offered promotions, special or limited editions and exclusive new products to viewers during the interactive event.
Dozens of the world’s premium and luxury brands participated in the show. Viewers were able to buy on the spot from G-Star RAW, LVMH’s Guerlain and Rimowa, Estée Lauder’s MAC makeup, SMCP’s Sandro, Maje and Claudie Pierlot, as well as Furla, TAG Heuer, Polo Ralph Lauren and a host of other apparel labels. Robert Geller and Jason Wu brought New York Fashion Week spirit to China in their debut show.
In a tie-in with Pharrell Williams, the fashion show featured handmade patched G-Star Elwood jeans designed by the performer, who is also the brand’s co-owner and “Head of Imagination.” The jeans were available in a limited quantity exclusively through G-Star RAW’s official Tmall online store.
As an official partner of the Tmall “See Now, Buy Now” fashion show, Estee Lauder Group’s MAC makeup brand made its debut in the event while getting a front seat on the mayhem that is Double-11, according to Gordon Espinet, SVP of global artist training, development and makeup artistry overseeing preparation for the runway.
“This is the first time MAC is participating in this Tmall event. Generally, a fashion show would have 30 models. I think we have close to 200 models, performers and dancers—so this is a mega event,” said Espinet, adding that the show serves as an opportunity to directly showcase the essential character of the brand with Chinese consumers.
Viewers across China tuned into the show through seven online and offline media outlets, including Alibaba’s own video platform, Youku, and the Taobao and Tmall mobile apps. Each format offered its own way for viewers to make real-time purchases of any items on the runway from their phones.
The ability for consumers to make real-time purchases also meant participating merchants—MAC, Burberry, Paul Smith, Levi’s, Estee Lauder, G-Star, Kappa, Daphne, Furla, Victoria’s Secret, to name a few—could receive immediate feedback on customer preference and buying behavior, said Alibaba Chief Marketing Officer Chris Tung.
“The value and reach of a customer-engaging fashion show like See Now Buy Now is far greater for brands than just placing their products at a traditional brick-and-mortar store,” Tung said.
From the start of its event promotion three weeks ago, Alibaba looked to elevate this year’s 11.11 from a shopping day to a virtual holiday, complete with a motto – “Wishing you a Happy 11.11” – that closely resembles the sort of greetings Chinese all over the world exchange at the Lunar New Year.
This year’s 11.11 also helped promote and validate the New Retail model Alibaba has been rolling out with merchants and brands, helping them introduce technology that seamlessly melds their online and offline operations and consumer experiences.
Even as Alibaba emphasizes the importance of New Retail and inclusion, 11.11 has not strayed far from its origins nine years ago. It’s an event about brands—and for brands—that are trying to engage existing customers and find new ones.
Brands, in addition to driving sales, welcome the depth of data they receive from Alibaba, and the size and scale of the customer information they get from 11.11 alone tells them a lot about who those consumers are and what they want, according to Alibaba Group.
Key highlights from the 2017 11.11 Global Shopping Festival
The Alibaba Economy at Scale
• Total GMV settled through Alipay was RMB168.2 billion (US$25.3 billion), an increase of 39% compared to 2016
• Total mobile GMV settled through Alipay was approximately 90% of total GMV, compared to 82% last year
• More than 140,000 participating brands and merchants
• Alipay processed 1.48 billion total payment transactions, up 41% from 2016, and processed 256,000 transactions per second at peak
• Alibaba Cloud processed 325,000 orders per second at peak
• Cainiao Network processed 812 million total delivery orders
• The first delivery arrived 12 minutes and 18 seconds after midnight
⚡️Alibaba's 2017 11.11 Shopping Festival: Highlightshttps://t.co/IjbfcpRswC
— Alibaba Group (@AlibabaGroup) November 11, 2017
Globalization: Power of the Chinese Consumer
• 60,000 international brands and merchants available to Chinese consumers
• 225 countries and regions with completed transactions
• 167 merchants each generated more than RMB100 million (US$15.1 million) in sales, • 17 merchants surpassed RMB500 million (US$75.4 million) in sales, and 6 merchants surpassed RMB1 billion (US$150.9 million) in sales
• Top countries selling to China included: Japan, United States, Australia, Germany, South Korea
From Singles Day to 11.11 Global Shopping Festival
The 11.11 shopping festival launched in 2009 as “Singles’ Day,” a one-day e-commerce promotion that attracted just 27 merchants as an event for merchants and consumers to raise awareness of the value in online shopping. Last year, nearly 100,000 brands and merchants participated in the global shopping event, with consumers spending US$17.8 billion (RMB120.7 billion) during the 24-hour period.
How the shopping spree tally is calculated: GMV for the 11.11 Global Shopping Festival is the total value of orders settled through Alipay on Alibaba’s China retail marketplaces and AliExpress within a 24-hour period on November 11. It is reported on a real-time basis and includes shipping charges paid (where applicable). Transactions related to international brands, i.e. brands originating outside of Mainland China, and user data are limited to Tmall.