Mobile Taobao Shopping Festival Fills China’s Karaoke Parlors with Song (19.8 Million of Them)

More than 2 million discounted movie tickets, 35,000 restaurant reservations and 19.8 million karaoke songs were redeemed March 8 during the Mobile Taobao 3.8 Life Festival, an online shopping event promoted by Chinese e-commerce powerhouse Alibaba Group to drive more PRC consumers to buy goods and services with their mobile phones.

While the event, the first of its kind for Taobao, generated little of the buzz of Alibaba’s wildly successful  11.11 Shopping Festival, company officials seemed satisfied with the results. Daniel Zhang, Alibaba Group’s Chief Operating Officer, told reporters on March 8 that by offering limited-time discounts on meals, movies and department-store merchandise to people who reserved and paid for purchases using mobile devices instead of cash, his company was looking to make online-to-offline (O2O) consumer behavior mainstream in China.

O2O is an e-commerce industry catchphrase that entails the cross-breeding of digital technologies with real-world shopping and services to boost sales by making consumption more convenient. Some 37 department stores, 1,500 in-store brand outlets, 230 karaoke parlors, 288 movie theaters and 800 restaurants across China participated in the Mobile Taobao 3.8 Life Festival.

“We want to define Mobile Taobao as an entrance of consumption in people’s daily life,” Zhang said.

 Mobile Taobao currently is China’s top mobile-shopping application; Alipay Wallet, offered by Alibaba’s e-payment affiliate, is the most popular mobile-payment app in China with over 100 million users.

Mobile commerce doesn’t need much of a push in China—organic growth is currently skyrocketing. The value of goods and services purchased through mobile devices grew 800 percent to RMB 1.3 trillion ($212 billion) in 2013, according to Analysys International.