Alibaba’s 11.11 Global Shopping Festival, also known as Singles’s Day, reached new heights in 2020. With US$74.1 billion in sales as measured by gross merchandise volume (up 26 percent in 2019), 250,000 brands taking part, 2.32 billion delivery orders processed, 11.11 Global Shopping Festival is the biggest sales event in the history of the planet, according to Alibaba Group.
The 11.11 Global Shopping Festival began in 2009 with participation from just 27 merchants as an event for merchants and consumers to raise awareness about the value of online shopping. Alibaba, the e-commerce company that founded the event, has stretched it into a three-week festival with retailers offering advanced discounts leading up to the 24-hour finale.
Competing retailer JD.com has since created its own 11.11. The shopping festival has gone global. After Alibaba took control of Lazada, shoppers in six Southeast Asian countries could join in on 11.11. Consumers from all over the world can also enjoy 11.11 promotions via delivery platform AliExpress.
Among the 250,000 brands that participated in Alibaba’s 11.11 shopping festival in 2020, 31,000 were overseas brands. 11.11 has grown to become an unmatched opportunity for international brands to engage with loyal customers, develop new and dedicated product launches, plus an important way to gain consumer insights.
Retail in Asia reviews the major opportunities and challenges for brands ahead of the upcoming 11.11 Shopping Festival.
In a nutshell:
Timing is everything
What was once a single day event has become a 23-day festival and brands should plan their marketing and inventory in advance. JD.com has just kicked off its 2021 Singles’ Day Grand Promotion. Pre-sale will commence on 20th October at 8pm and finish at 8 pm on 31st October when the official sales period begins. Additionally, the final price-off will start at 8 pm on 10th November to allow consumers to place orders of high-quality and low-priced goods without having to pull an all-nighter.
Product launch opportunity
The shopping festival has long been an opportunity for brands to test market response with new items but standing out from competitors has become a major challenge.
“11.11 has evolved from brands focusing on heavy discounting to providing novel shopping experiences. A large part of this experience is launching and testing new products. The product launches are one of the highlights for consumers and many brands take advantage of the spike in shopper interest to garner exposure for their new products, but they should ensure these releases are supported by great experiences and hullabaloo to stand out from the clutter. Some brands go to the extent of launching special festival edition products,” said Mark Tanner, Managing Director of China Skinny.
More than just deals
11.11 is the antithesis of passive retail and brands have to innovate to create an ultimate experiential shopping event.
“Many brands’ annual sales targets are largely contingent on the success of 11.11. I cannot think of a category which does not have its biggest month in November. As a result, every year brands are upping the ante to create an experience – games, tools, clever promos, endorsements, offers, etc – which will help them stand out in the increasingly competitive festival,” added Tanner.
Leverage the power of social media
Social media platforms play a major role as traffic entrance for 11.11 Global Shopping Festival but brands should leverage social media to build a relationship with customers. According to Tanner, social media – brand-owned but moreso KOL-owned followings help attract shoppers to stores and stand out from the crowd. Brands typically start creating buzz for the festival in September/early-October. In addition to drawing traffic, some of the most successful brands tie in offers and loyalty programs with their social accounts post-purchase, allowing them to build relationships with customers long after the festival providing more sustainable returns on the 11.11 investment.
An omnichannel experience
Brands are connecting their physical and online experiences. Extending 11.11 promotions to brick-and-mortar stores and beyond is just one part of delivering a seamless customer experience.
“Alibaba has long aimed to create a holistic retail festival for 11.11, incorporating non-digital touch points. This involves augmented reality games, TV galas, light shows and most prolifically, participating brick-and-mortar retailers. Alibaba and JD-owned and affiliated retailers are always the most active with promotions and related experiences. Beauty retailers have been early adopters supporting 11.11 experiential initiatives but more categories are following suit with each festival,” said Tanner.
SEE ALSO : Niche fashion brands kick off on JD.com
Logistics is crucial
Behind every great shopping festival is great logistics. This is a timely issue given the current supply chain and freight disruptions.
“Consumers today want their orders faster than ever before, with research indicating more than a third (36 percent) of online shoppers having requested for same-day delivery this year, up from 24 percent last year. These high consumer expectations also translate into huge disappointment when goods are not at their doorstep when expected,” said Mitch Bittermann, Executive Vice President, E-commerce Asia at TMX.
To tackle this issue, JD.com rolled out the on-demand “Nearby” channel on the app homepage, which provides fast delivery services of high-quality products from stores in the vicinity of 3-5 kilometers based on the location of consumers. As of now, 100,000 all-category physical stores have been connected to JD.com’s “Shop Now” feature under this channel in order to provide consumers with on-demand retail and delivery service within an hour and sometimes even minutes.
As the 11.11 Shopping Festival is kicking off, watch this space for more insights about this global phenomenon.