China’s Singles Day Online Shopping Festival is Going Global

Alibaba Group’s Singles Day Shopping Festival, China’s largest 24-hour online shopping promotion, is going global this year as shoppers in some 200 countries and regions will be able to select from more than one million products being offered at steep discounts by participating Chinese and international e-tailers.

The promotion, held annually on Nov. 11, a light-hearted holiday for China’s single people, has grown over the last several years into a shopping frenzy as millions of Chinese consumers frantically take to their keyboards to score discounts of up to 50 percent. On Nov. 11, 2013, some $5.7 billion worth of goods were sold on Alibaba Group shopping platforms Taobao Marketplace and Tmall.com, making the event the largest 24-hour online shopping binge in the world. By comparison, online sales on Black Friday and Cyber Monday topped $2.9 billion in 2013, according to comScore.

Until now, the Singles Day shopping festival has been limited largely to the mainland. But less than a month from the 2014 event, Alibaba Group officials yesterday announced that merchants with storefronts on its international e-commerce marketplaces, AliExpress and Tmall Global, are also participating.

AliExpress is a consumer shopping platform that connects shoppers from all over the world with Chinese merchants selling a wide array of products including apparel, electronics and even hair extensions. Tmall Global offers Chinese consumers ability to buy directly from foreign brands that don’t have established Chinese retail operations.

Come 11.11, AliExpress merchants will offer 50 percent discounts on some one million product listings, according to the website’s officials. Free international shipping will be available on selected items to AliExpress shoppers in Brazil, Spain, Russia and other key markets.

China’s national postal service will work with Brazil Post, Russia Post and the Spanish postal service to ensure speedy customs clearance and delivery. Alibaba Group has tied up with various postal services this year, including a partnership with Brazilian Post, a stake buy in Singapore Post and an e-commerce tie up with Australia Post. Cainiao, a logistics subsidiary of Alibaba Group, will manage logistics globally and provide users with global traceability of their parcel shipments.

Shoppers from Hong Kong, Malaysia and Taiwan can also take advantage of hugely discounted shipping rates on 400 items when shopping on Taobao Marketplace. Additionally, Alibaba Group will run marketing campaigns in these regions and in Singapore to promote the event.

Chinese consumers will also have a chance to shop internationally. Tmall Global is gearing up with a slate of special offers for PRC residents on imported goods from seven countries including the U.S., U.K. and Germany.

Goods will be shipped via bonded warehouses in free-trade zones in three Chinese cities—Hangzhou, Ningbo and Guangzhou—which means Tmall Global shoppers will enjoy preferential tax rates and lower customs duties as well as speedier delivery times. Brands like Blue Nile, a Seattle-based online diamond and jeweler retailer; King Power, Thailand’s largest duty free retail company; and Nissen, a Japanese clothing retailer, will participate in the promotion through Tmall Global.

The rising wealth of Chinese consumers has led to a boom in demand for foreign cosmetics, apparel, and even fresh produce. While many Chinese consumers choose to buy imported products within the PRC, a growing number of shoppers elect are saving money by purchasing directly from overseas merchants.

During last year’s shopping festival, overseas orders soared with users from Hong Kong, the U.S. and Taiwan participating heavily. The total gross merchandise value for orders from overseas markets was RMB 219.6 million.

At a press conference in Hangzhou, Alibaba Group laid out additional planned highlights of the 2014 Singles Day Shopping Festival.

Logistics:

- China Smart Logistics, or Cainiao, will take the lead in terms of managing global logistics. Cainiao, in which Alibaba Group has a 48 percent stake, has established a global network of warehouses, transport and distribution points and will work with logistics partners all over the world to ensure quick customs clearance and delivery of 11.11 goods.

- For domestic orders, Cainiao will work to facilitate cross-border imports by using bonded warehouses and coordinating with regulatory authorities and local governments to ensure that all imported goods are genuine and comply with customs regulations.

- Cainiao will integrate information from all its partners to allow consumers and merchants to trace the location and status of parcels during shipline over the Internet.

- Cainiao will work with convenience store partners such as Circle K and 7-11 in Hong Kong, Family Mart and 7-11 in Taiwan as well as Singapore Post to offer users 4,000 outlets in Southeast Asia where consumers can pick up their online orders.

Big Data:

- Predictive analysis will be applied to Tmall.com transaction data to project order volume, which Cainiao and its deliver partners will use to allocate resources and respond to demand.

O2O

- During 11.11, offline-to-online promotional activities will focus on China’s home improvement industry. As part of this special promotion, consumers can arrange their home renovation or home decoration projects entirely online with prices guaranteed to be the same or cheaper than prices offline. DIYers can select designs, buy materials and arrange for installation online.

- More than 300 department stores in 18 Chinese cities will participate in the event by offering special discounts and freebies to shoppers who buy online store-value cards and to use them to redeem merchandise at brick and mortar stores.