What to Expect from Alibaba’s 2020 11.11 Global Shopping Festival

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Global brand recovery will be a key focus of this year’s 2020 11.11 Global Shopping Festival, Alibaba said Tuesday.

Alibaba publicly kicked off the world’s largest shopping event with a media event in Shanghai, emphasizing it views 11.11, now in its 12th year, as an important growth driver for domestic and international merchants whose business took a hit this year from Covid-19.

More than 250,000 brands will participate, and the number of new products debuting on Alibaba’s B2C platform Tmall, alone, will exceed 2 million. That’s twice the number of new products from last year. Additionally, luxury shoppers will see promotions from nearly 200 brands, including Cartier, Montblanc, Piaget, Balenciaga, Vacheron Constantin and Chloé.

The event is also anticipating the highest-ever consumer turnout, with about 800 million users participating. Unlike in previous years, the sales extravaganza will span two sales periods from Nov. 1 to 3 and Nov. 11 and feature deals and discounts in non-traditional categories such as apartments, automobiles, home decoration plans and other services.

Extended Sales-Windows to Drive Growth

Tmall and Taobao President Jiang Fan told media the reason for this year’s extended sales period is to give brands and SMEs more exposures and opportunities to reach consumers. As China looks to be closer to the tail end of the coronavirus pandemic, 11.11 is expected to be a major growth driver for merchants, following Alibaba’s Spring Thunder stratagem. That initiative was launched earlier this year to help global SMEs and businesses weather the severe loss of business during global lockdowns.

At the same time, by having two key sales period, consumers who buy during the first phase will receive their products sooner. The extended festival also offers them more time to browse and snatch up deals, which also means a better, faster fulfillment experience, Jiang added.

Meeting Rising Demand for Overseas Brands

The Alibaba digital ecosystem is rolling out several new initiatives to help relieve China’s pent-up consumption demands. Over the past few months, Chinese power-spenders have turned to online platforms for their overseas purchases, due to ongoing travel restrictions. To meet the demand for international products, Alibaba’s cross-border e-commerce unit is ramping up its offerings. Tmall Global will debut over 2,600 new brands from overseas, and Kaola will also be offering products from 89 countries and regions, with more attractive prices available to its Global VIP members.

“11.11 is not just about shoppers who look for attractive deals, but also shoppers who look for the finest things in life,” said President of Greater China of BSH Home Appliances Group Dr. Alexander G.C. Dony at the event.

The company has collaborated with Alibaba for the past eight years, growing its China portfolio with brands including Siemens, Bosch and soon to come this 11.11 — Gaggenau, a luxury German home appliance manufacturer with 300 years of history.

To help international brands succeed in China, Alibaba hosted the Go Global Pitch Fest earlier in August to prepare U.S. SMEs for their first-ever 11.11. Nine brands were selected from nearly 100 applicants to receive hands-on advice, marketing resources and account support from Tmall Global. The winners will be spotlighted by the cross-border e-commerce platform and sell directly to shoppers through Tmall Global’s Overseas Fulfillment program.

Highlighting Hyperlocal and Consumption in Less-Developed Cities

In addition to Tmall and Tmall Global, Alipay is stepping up its supports to boost sales for small and micro businesses in China. The digital lifestyle platform is offering vouchers and special promotions to consumers in over 100 Chinese cities. By searching for specific keywords on the Alipay app, consumers can redeem local discounts from coffeehouses to neighborhood grocery stores.

The urban festival will stretch across three weekends, making it easier for more than 2 million brick-and-mortar businesses to engage with consumers offline, said Jiang.

Alibaba also plans a slew of promotions to engage with its price-conscious consumers. Taobao Deals, Alibaba’s C2M platform launched in earlier March, is taking part in 11.11 for the first time. Shoppers from less-developed cities will find direct-from-factory items at surprisingly low prices in the app, some as low as RMB1, including shipping.

Livestreaming Takes the Lead

Livestreaming is becoming the most-popular brand engagement channel for both Chinese and international brands. During the official 11.11 sales period, more than 400 company executives and 300 celebrities will step in front of the camera to interact with their customers and fans.

To warm up for 11.11 presales, Tmall kicked off an online-to-offline fashion event spanning 48 hours last weekend. This was its latest move to rethink the fashion-show format since recent collaborations with Shanghai Fashion Week and New York Fashion Week. The event began with a physical runway presentation in Shanghai, spotlighting products that would be available for presale on Oct. 21. Brands participating in the show included Sandro, Maje, The Kooples and Alice & Olivia just to name a few.

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Tmall fashion show with both online and offline components

Not only professional models strutted the catwalk, but also celebrities, key opinion leaders and popular livestreamers also took part — exiting the stage and heading right into adjacent livestream studios to connect with fans online. The runway show’s livestream had more than 6 million views within an hour. And it didn’t stop there: In the next 48 hours, Tmall amplified the event with hundreds of livestream hosts recommending their favorite items from the show to their followers, as well as other products to watch this 11.11. The streams drew over 15.8 million views combined.

Alibaba is also hosting a special, virtual program to bring behind-the-scenes content, exclusive interviews and live reporting from Hangzhou to audiences outside China. Plans are for two sessions livestreamed in English on Nov. 10th and 11th from 10:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. EST, each day.

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