Retail in Asia

In Trends

Alibaba’s 11.11 Global Shopping Festival sets a new record

Alibaba Group’s 11.11 Global Shopping Festival has notched new highs, closing out the event this week with US$84.54 billion in gross merchandise volume.

SEE ALSO : Maximising sales and impact on 11.11 Shopping Festival

Alibaba’s two-week shopping blitz already outstrips all other retail events, but this year was by far its largest edition to date, bringing together at least 900 million Chinese consumers and 290,000 brands.

A record number of designer brands participated this time around as the luxury world continued to embrace e-commerce. More than 200 brands took part via Tmall Luxury Pavilion, Alibaba’s platform for high-end brands, including Saint Laurent, Max Mara, Thom Browne and Van Cleef & Arpels for the first time.

“The pandemic has brought unprecedented challenges to brands and retailers but also accelerated their digital transformation, as exemplified in brands’ consumer engagement strategies during this year’s 11.11,” said Alibaba Group President Michael Evans.

“The e-commerce environment continues to be very vibrant. China remains an incredibly important market for brands to find growth today but also for growth in the future,” Evans said.

As 11.11 marks its 13th year, success metrics are shifting. GMV is no longer the only bellwether of achievement but a figure to be considered alongside sustainability and inclusivity targets. Likewise, for merchants the shopping festival has evolved from a discount bonanza to encompass retail innovation and brand loyalty.

Alibaba’s Chief Marketing Officer Chris Tung described this as a coming-of-age moment for the festival.

“In the early stages of 11.11, we focused on growth — the same way that parents would focus on a child’s height and strength. But as a child becomes a teenager, the parents shift their focus to nurturing the child’s sense of responsibility: the role he or she plays in society. That is what we’re doing now,” said Tung.

He stressed that 11.11’s true value goes beyond sales figures to how it can play a part in building the future of consumption.

“11.11 is about how to best leverage Alibaba’s latest technology to support brands and merchants in driving sustainable and inclusive growth in more efficient ways,” Tung added.

For the first time, Alibaba put up a dedicated vertical for eco-friendly, low-impact products during the 11.11 sales.

This helped boost the visibility of 500,000 low-impact products from 2,000-plus merchants spanning the food and beverage, home furnishing, electronic appliances and mom-and-baby categories. It even featured fuel-saving cars. Tesla, for example, sold more charging stations for its electric cars within the first minute of 11.11 than it had during the entire festival last year.

To encourage greener consumption, Alibaba offered additional discounts on items in the green vertical, as well as issued RMB100 million worth of “green vouchers” to incentivise sustainable purchases.

Just nine hours into the festival, Alibaba’s platforms sold over 120,000 energy-efficient home appliances. Notably, within the first hour, consumers bought 25,000 water-saving toilets which amount to saving 225 tons of water a day.

SEE ALSO : Key innovations in China’s luxury market in 11.11 Shopping Festival

For each green purchase they make, shoppers can earn “energy points” on Alipay Ant Forest, the e-wallet’s tree-planting mini program. Consumers gained more than 1,000 tons in green energy points this 11.11, which means 58,838 real trees will be planted by Alipay and its NGO partners on their behalf in China’s most arid regions in need of afforestation.