Alibaba Group’s 11.11 Global Shopping Festival 2020 leverages technology, trends to help brands reach a global market

  • To feature 2,600 new overseas brands, more than 2mil new products
  • Brands can leverage digitalization to enter China; logistics ready for global reach

Alibaba Group’s 11.11 Global Shopping Festival 2020 leverages technology, trends to help brands reach a global market

Alibaba Group’s 11.11 Global Shopping Festival isn’t just an online shopping event. It is, in many ways, a cultural one – a day people mark on their calendars, and talk about among friends and family. In Malaysia, it will kick off with a concert hosted byAlibaba Group’s 11.11 Global Shopping Festival 2020 leverages technology, trends to help brands reach a global market celebrities the likes of Yuna and Douglas Lim.

It is also a day of technological achievements. Events of such a scale require digital innovations that grow and evolve along with the increase of sales and logistics.

The 11.11 Global Shopping Festival 2020 is set to be the biggest one yet. It will also be the one set during an unprecedented time. The Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated e-commerce at a pace hitherto unseen, and it’s expected to significantly affect the way people engage with the Festival.

“Through the pandemic, everyone has been experiencing new lifestyles and new ways doing everything from home – whether it’s shopping from home, or working from home,” says Alibaba Group chief marketing officer Chris Tung (pic, below).

Tung was speaking at the APAC press conference for the festival held at the Sheraton Grand Hangzhou Wetland Park Resort, China, to a mix of in-person and virtual attendees.

“Thanks to the infrastructure of e-commerce, we are able to enjoy the benefits and convenience that online shopping brings to us. This has fundamentally changed how people shop, work with colleagues, and spend time with family. It has made digital transformations and online shopping more essential.”


Growing reach

Alibaba Group’s 11.11 Global Shopping Festival 2020 leverages technology, trends to help brands reach a global marketThe 11.11 Festival is playing a role in this, too. In his welcome speech, Tung emphasised the importance of embracing innovative digital technologies, and how Alibaba is helping more brands – both in China and the APAC region – to participate in the Festival.  

This year’s 11.11, he says, will see more brands and products making their debut on Taobao and Tmall’s platforms, to the sum of over 2,600 new overseas brands, more than 2,000,000 new products, and 250,000 brands being introduced to the Festival for the first time this year.

Renowned luxury brands joining for the first time include Prada, Cartier, Montblanc, Piaget, Balenciaga, and Chloé.

Tung also says that the Festival this year will have greater international reach. For one, Alibaba Group’s cross-border e-commerce platform Kaola will be joining the 11.11 festivities, with Tmall Global and Kaola featuring products from 89 countries and markets.

Increasing their global reach is only natural for Alibaba, which is seeing tremendous growth on their e-commerce platform. According to Tmall Import and Export president Alvin Liu, TMall Global’s GMV grew over 40% year-on-year (YoY) in April to June 2020. There is also a sharp increase in online purchases of imported products due to the pandemic’s international impact.

Liu adds that China is the largest consumer market globally, where international brands and merchandise appeal strongly to the country’s new middle class. In 2019, the total value of consumer goods imported into China was more than US$200 billion, while online consumption penetration was only 6%, representing a huge potential for cross-border e-commerce

In response to this, the 11.11 Festival will see the debut of over 1.2 million new imported products, including those from the aforementioned 2,600 overseas brands joining for the first time.

An example is The Bravados, Universal Music Group’s merchandising and brand management division, which has just launched a store on Tmall Global featuring merchandise from top international artists such as Tupac, Guns N’ Roses, The Rolling Stones, Bob Marley and Taylor Swift.

With the Festival’s growing reach, Chris Tung says that the event will see holistic participation of business units across Alibaba’s ecosystem. Alipay, Tmall Global, Fliggy and ticketing platforms such as Taopiaopiao and Damai will be there to provide more seamless end-to-end shopping experiences.

There will be an emphasis towards younger shoppers. Tung explains that there will be more focus on street fashion and technology to better cater to Gen Z consumers. On top of that, big-ticket items such as cars and houses will also be on offer on the platform for the first time.

More significantly, livestreaming will become a stronger pillar this year – 60% of the Taobao Live sessions will be conducted by the merchants themselves. 300 celebrities and artists will be joining in those sessions across the sales period. 


Reaching over SEA

Through the 11.11 Festival, brands can leverage on digitalisation to enter the Chinese market. “With more people shopping digitally, cross-border this year provides a perfect opportunity for brands to enter China using digital means,” says Liu.

“Before, brands always thought you need to have a physical presence in China. But we already have the logistics and payment infrastructure in place, meaning brands just need to focus on how to target their audience and work with Alibaba to deliver the right brand image to China when entering the market.”

For a closer look on opportunities in Southeast Asia, Lazada Group’s co-president and regional head of Commercial Jessica Liu says that this year’s 11.11 Festival will see “strong partnerships across the region.” Over 70 brands will be collaborating with Lazada, featuring signature and hero products from their exclusive 11.11 catalogue.

More than 350,000 sellers and brands across the region will be participating, including Lancôme, Under Armour, Swatch and Castrol. Lazada also unveiled their first Lazada regional brand ambassador, South Korean actor and model Lee Min Ho.

There will be more than just deals and discounts. Starting 1 Nov, Lazada launched their latest 11.11 exclusive game, Happy Bounce, across SEA on their in-app gaming platform, LazGames. Here, players can win Lazada coins and vouchers to offset their purchases.

Jessica Liu adds that Lazada’s entire logistics network covers six countries across SEA, comprising of 45 logistics partners, over 15 warehouse facilities and over 400 fulfilment centres and hubs.

To prepare for the large volume of deliveries, Lazada has over 40,000 warehouses and logistics staff to support an approximate of 20 times the volume of regular deliveries from domestic and cross border sales.

Observing SEA trends, she notes that the festival will make some shifts to accommodate new preferences. “In particular, we saw that our demand for product categories changed significantly, with office essentials becoming a staple buy. This is one product category that we’ve made sure to stock up on in our inventory in the lead-up to 11.11,” she says.


Powered by innovation

A Festival like the 11.11 Sales can only be supported by an equally strong logistics support. James Zhao, General Manager, Cainiao Global Supply Chain, Cainiao Network says that Cainiao (Alibaba’s key logistics arm) has been investing in cutting-edge logistics technology and innovations including the Automated Guided Vehicle (AGV), automated parcel collection machine and smart lockers to support the greater volumes of orders made during 11.11.

During last year’s Festival, Cainiao processed more than 1.8 delivery orders. Zhao notes that Cainiao has been building up its tech and supply chain infrastructure to better support consumers, merchants and logistics partners – the key stakeholders in this event.

Handling the consumer side are Cainiao Post and Cainiao Guoguo, which handles last-mile deliveries and pick-up services respectively. For merchants, the team has divided these services into domestic and global supply chain services, with three services each.

As for their for logistics partners. Cainiao has devised two kinds of infrastructures, namely their Logistics Park and Logistics Technology, to support their eHubs, warehouses, as well as digitise logistics vehicles and inventory machines.

According to Zhao, the incorporation of smart technologies means that over half of the exported goods will see a 60% increase in delivery efficiency. Customers in key European cities such as Madrid, Paris, Berlin and Warsaw will receive their parcels in as fast as three days.

Cainiao operates over 700 chartered flights to deliver 90% of exported goods directly to their destinations. This, Zhao says, is an opportunity for Chinese foreign trade businesses to expand into overseas markets. This year, 11.11 is expected to generate 20 times the daily volume of cross-border parcels.

Inversely, over 26,000 international brands from 84 countries and regions are exporting to China via Cainiao’s extensive global supply chain network, while Cainiao’s overseas warehouses are expanded to major cities in 12 countries across four continents, so goods from countries like Japan, Korea, Australia and Spain can be directly delivered to China.

The 11.11 Global Shopping Festival may be the biggest one yet, but what’s also intriguing is how its execution will ripple across the e-commerce sector as a whole. We shall have to wait and see.

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