In selling commodities, China’s 11.11 Single’s Day and the American Black Friday have much in common, says business analyst Andy Mok. But China’s shopping festival has developed much deeper than just a selling opportunity for retailers, he argues at the CGTN.
This year’s event in China has been rechristened as the 11.11 Global Shopping Festival. While superficially it appears similar to Black Friday, underneath the hood it is quite different and the implications for the future of retail are profound.
The goal of Black Friday is quite simple: move merchandise so American retailers can book more sales. However, while 11.11 started with the same goal it has since evolved to achieve much more sophisticated objectives. According to Daniel Zhang, Alibaba CEO, the company’s goal is not to dominate e-commerce but achieve the complete digitization of retail, both online and offline, which it dubs “New Retail.”
Rather than just boost sales by offering extreme deals, brands participating in 11.11 now see it as a way to acquire new customers and strengthen customer engagement. One way brands do this is by promoting limited edition products instead of big discounts with 180,000 brands from inside and outside China participating.
As part of its New Retail vision Alibaba has launched a business like Hema, an integrated retail experience combining a brick and mortar supermarket, restaurant and distribution center that delivers within a three-kilometer radius, and an automobile vending machine concept that allows prospective buyers to try out new cars before ever interacting with a salesperson.
According to Zhang, 11.11 has now become an important platform for showcasing these emerging capabilities for new retail. Also, this edition of 11.11 includes 200,000 mom-and-pop stores powered by Alibaba’s Ling Shou Tong to provide online sales promotions and augmented reality-based red packets that offer discounts at 3,000 “Tmall Corner Stores.” Furthermore, through Lazada, its Southeast Asian affiliate, Alibaba hosted its 11.11 Shopping Festival across Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Vietnam.
As the above examples show, 11.11 has evolved to be much more than just a shopping day and is now a key component of how a Chinese company is leading the way in creating the future of global retail. Perhaps before too long, we will see Amazon and others adopting similar approaches to keep pace and Black Friday and Cyber Monday may start exhibiting Chinese characteristics.
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