How Alibaba Group Plans to Make Its 11.11 Shopping Festival International

With more than one million items set to go on sale on AliExpress, Alibaba Group’s international shopping website, overseas consumers have a bargains binge to look forward to as China’s marquee Nov 11. online sale expands worldwide. During the one-day promotion, Chinese consumers will also able to buy marked-down imports through Tmall Global, an e-commerce platform that lets brands who don’t have an established China business sell and ship directly to Chinese consumers.

By promoting this year’s 11.11 Shopping Festival, also known as Singles Day, as a cross-border bonanza in which overseas as well as Chinese consumers can participate, Alibaba Group will be challenging the international delivery networks and logistics partnerships its subsidiaries have been building upon for the last several years. Alibaba has reached agreements with governments and vendors from many countries, including the U.S., France and South Korea, to increase product offerings for this year’s online shopping spree. “We hope to build each year’s Singles Day into a platform to allow vendors, service providers and technology partners to play their part,” Wang Yulei, president of Alibaba’s, said at a press briefing in Hangzhou, China, last week. In preparation for the sale, Alibaba doubled the number of network servers the company operates overseas to improve the cross-border experience.

Here are additional details on Alibaba’s 11.11 plans:

How will the logistics work for this year’s 11.11 Shopping Festival?

China Smart Logistics, a consortium of Chinese shipping and package-delivery companies in which Alibaba holds a 48 percent stake, is working with China Post, the country’s postal service, to ensure Chinese merchants hosted by AliExpress can deliver to more than 220 countries. China Post’s partners include the national postal services of Russia, Brazil and Spain. China Smart Logistics will also work with Singapore Post; international courier companies like EMS, DHL, Fedex, UPS and TNT; and 14 domestic courier companies to ensure speedy delivery of merchandise to Chinese consumers.

- In Russia, where AliExpress is the top e-commerce platform, China Smart Logistics will use electronic customs clearance technology to shorten the time it takes for products to reach consumers – halving the usual transit time from 60-90 days to within 35 days.

- China Smart Logistics has also established a central information network to enable buyers, sellers, freight forwarders, customs and warehousing companies to access logistics information in order to achieve seamless tracking of parcels.  Once a parcel’s tracking number is generated, the parcel can be followed by multiple parties the entire route.

- Shoppers in Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia and Taiwan will be offered reduced cross-border shipping rates on selected products from Taobao International. They will also have the option of of fetching their parcels from 8,000 self-pickup points such as Family Mart convenient stores in Taiwan and self-pickup lockers in Singapore.

- China Smart Logistics operates warehouses serving Tmall Global merchants in the U.S., Germany and Australia to ensure that goods are quickly shipped to China.

- Over one million courier personnel will be mobilized for this year’s shopping festival to deliver parcels in China.

How will Tmall Global participate in this year’s sale?

For 11.11, Tmall Global is focusing on vendors and brands in Europe, the U.S., Japan, Korea, Australia, New Zealand, Germany and Italy. Products from nine countries will be on sale. Merchandise is shipped months in advance to three bonded warehouses in China. From there the goods are sorted, repacked and ready to be shipped to the end consumer. By using these warehouses, merchants can reduce their logistics costs by up to 90 percent, while Chinese consumers receive their orders more quickly.  Infant milk powder from Germany and Australia, cosmetics from Japan and South Korea and food seasoning from Southeast Asian countries, are amongst the most stocked items in the warehouses in the run up to the sale.

To watch a video on bonded warehouses, China’s effort to simplify cross-border shopping, click here.

Tmall Global merchants participating in the 11.11 sale this year:

- Blue Nile is a Seattle-based online jewelry retailer. Their store on Tmall Global will participate in this year’s sale by offering a range of fine diamond and gemstone jewelry for sale.

- King Power is Thailand’s largest duty-free retail group, selling a variety of goods, from bath products to dried tropical fruits.

- Juicy Couture, a high-end American apparel brand, will be offering sweat suits at 42 percent off.

- Nissen is a popular Japanese apparel e-tailer. This year’s sale will see many of its popular winter jackets discounted.

- Costco is an American warehouse club retailer that joined the Tmall Global platform in October. Within days of launching, Costco sold over three tons of nuts and one ton of dried cranberries to Chinese consumers. For 11.11, Costco has teamed up with Chinese courier firm SF Express to shorten delivery times to China to as little as five days.

What about AliExpress?

More than one million items, ranging from baby toys to hair extensions to electronics, will be on sale on AliExpress. Thousands of items will be available for free shipping globally while over 70 percent of goods on the Russia AliExpress page will eligible for free shipping. U.S. customers will enjoy 3-5 day shipping on products sold during the sale. Shoppers can play interactive games on AliExpress to win bigger discounts and collect e-coupons to use during the sale.

AliExpress supports Alipay, the e-payment affiliate company of Alibaba Group, as a payment method, as well as Visa, Mastercard and Western Union. AliExpress will work Yandex.Money, WebMoney and Visa QIWI Wallet in Russia and Boleto in Brazil to provide customers localized e-payment solutions. Russian shoppers paying with QIWI Wallet on the 11.11 Shopping Festival will get a cashback. AliExpress will also offer MercadoPago, a leading e-payment player in South America, as a payment method for shoppers in Mexico on 11.11. The tie-up will let 120 million shoppers in Mexico buy products from the platform and pay in cash at local banks and convenience stores, or use their debit and credit cards to settle the bill. 

Daniel Zhang, Alibaba Group’s chief operating officer, said in a press conference last week that he hopes the 11.11 sale will become a true global shopping event in five to 10 years as Alibaba’s e-commerce ecosystem, once largely confined within China’s borders, continues to expand internationally through collaboration with more governments, banks and postal services in order to give shoppers everywhere a seamless, “local” e-commerce experience--no matter where the merchants they patronize are located.

For more information about Alibaba Group's platforms and how they are taking part in this year's sale, click here.