Singles’ Day (November 11) is the most significant online shopping day in China. Alibaba created an annual shopping event—now officially known as the 11.11 Global Shopping Festival—in 2009, marketing special “double 11” deals to single people who wanted to treat themselves by buying things they desired. The online sales extravaganza has caught on with other e-commerce players in China, and JD.com launched its first Singles’ Day sales in 2010. In 2012, Alibaba trademarked several terms related to Singles’ Day.
This year, Singles’ Day sales are forecast to surpass last year’s $17.8 billion, given an unprecedented number of participating brands, significant offline retail offerings and Alibaba’s effort to expand the occasion from a one-day shopping event into a shopping season. This year, 140,000 brands, including more than 60,000 international brands, are participating in Singles’ Day, up from 100,000 last year. These brands will be able to showcase their products to more than half a billion Chinese consumers on Alibaba’s platforms.
The 11.11 Global Shopping Festival will help SMEs from around the world reach an audience of half a billion Chinese consumers via Alibaba’s e-commerce platforms, which were founded with a mission to help SMEs reach global consumers. The 11.11 shopping event enables these smaller businesses to engage with Chinese consumers in ways that they previously could not due to their business size.
The active participation of SMEs around the world in the Singles’ Day event is set to boost sales in the 24-hour period to a new record high. These smaller brands and retailers will participate in promotions on Tmall, use Alibaba’s technology to integrate their retail operations and use Alibaba’s AliExpress site to facilitate sales.
1) SMEs from Overseas Are Participating in 11.11 Promotions on Tmall Along with Multinational Brands
FGRT interviewed executives from two US-based emerging brands—100% Pure and Stadium Goods—about their participation in the 11.11 Global Shopping Festival this year and their journey as small brands on Alibaba’s Tmall Global platform. Alibaba has enabled emerging brands from the US to reach Chinese consumers via its cross-border e-commerce platform without requiring them to pay high initial setup costs. Both executives we spoke with view China as a very attractive market and plan to use their experience with Alibaba as an initial step toward establishing brick-and-mortar operations in China in the future.
100% Pure is a California-based all-natural skincare and cosmetics brand. The company originally used Alibaba’s sourcing platform, Alibaba.com, for its product packaging. 100% Pure launched on Tmall in April 2017 after discovering significant demand for its products from Chinese tourists traveling to the US. Since then, China has become 100% Pure’s biggest overseas market. CEO Ric Kostick says the company’s China business is on track to reach $50 million, a milestone the company’s US business reached only after five years.
During the upcoming 11.11 Global Shopping Festival, 100% Pure expects to generate about $92,000 in sales over the 24-hour period, about 35 times more than an average day’s sales on Tmall. In anticipation of the spike in sales, the company prepositioned ample inventory in Alibaba’s warehouse in Hong Kong.
100% Pure will be featured on Tmall’s interactive shopping map along with other global beauty brands such as Estée Lauder and MAC: shoppers can click on the world map and zoom in on brands from a particular region. This interactive shopping map is designed to help Chinese consumers discover new products.
During the 11.11 event, 100% Pure will also participate in livestreamed shopping sessions hosted by Chinese influencer Weiya, in which 100% Pure’s products will be featured. The brand finds livestreaming very effective in terms of driving sales. This July, 100% Pure participated in a livestreaming session with an influencer on the Taobao app (Taobao is Alibaba’s consumer-to-consumer e-commerce site) that generated about $15,000 in sales in just three minutes.
Stadium Goods is a New York City–based marketplace for collectible sneakers and streetwear. Started in 2015, the company specializes in selling one-of-a-kind sneaker collections and streetwear merchandise. Stadium Goods is on track to reach $120 million in total gross merchandise volume this year.
Stadium Goods launched its official Tmall Global store in August 2016 after discovering strong demand for unique sneakers from consumers in Mainland China. Now, China is its fastest-growing market and its largest market outside the US, with orders from China accounting for 15%–20% of its total business. Stadium Goods CEO John McPheters predicts that the company’s China business will account for 30%–35% of total sales in the next few years.
Stadium Goods started its presale for the 11.11 Global Shopping Festival in late October and it has been pushing 11.11 discount coupons on its Tmall Global store page. Stadium Goods is also working with influencers to feature its products in livestreamed sessions. As Stadium Goods focuses on offering unique products, rather than on competing on discounts, the company views 11.11 as a marketing occasion for more Chinese consumers to get to know the brand.
2) More than 600,000 Neighborhood Convenience Stores Have Integrated with Alibaba’s System for the 11.11 Shopping Festival
In addition to serving international SMEs, Alibaba has invested substantially in developing technologies to empower SMEs in China. The company is enabling some 600,000 mom-and-pop convenience stores and 30,000 rural retail centers to participate in the 11.11 shopping festival for the first time this year through its “LST” or “retail integrated” technology. LST is a cloud-based system that provides smart merchandise solutions and digital payment, inventory management and smart logistics systems for owners of small convenience stores.
The LST solution can significantly improve operational efficiency for these stores, whose owners have traditionally based their merchandise strategy on intuition and experience and whose store inventory and payments have been mostly managed manually. Store owners can use data analytics from LST’s merchandise solution to identify their best-selling products and receive recommendations of merchandise that is likely to sell well at a specific store location.
3) AliExpress to Drive Cross-Border Sales for Small Merchants on 11.11
AliExpress is Alibaba’s cross-border business-to-consumer e-commerce site. It enables small businesses in China to sell to overseas customers in more than 200 countries. AliExpress has become the top e-commerce website in Russia and Brazil.
For the 11.11 Global Shopping Festival, the AliExpress site is running special promotions for individual cross-border merchants. For example, AliExpress is offering up to 60% off winter fashion categories such as outerwear and fur accessories on 11.11 and up to 50% off on consumer electronics.