Alibaba Group is about to announce the official beginning of the ninth edition of 11.11, the world’s biggest sales event which was initially conceived to be 100% online. This year, the spotlight is on ‘no-channel retail’ and the complete fusion of online and offline. Jean-Marc Mégnin, Shoppermind CEO, offers some insight.
What was originally a day created for Chinese singles has now become the most intense day of shopping in the world. Unbelievably low prices and total sales of 17.4 billion dollars in 2017 ‒ racked up in just 24 hours!
« No Channel Retail »
The next ‘one-day sale’ will take place on 11/11/17, from 12:00 am to 11:59:59 pm. This year, the event – which was initially conceived to be 100% online ‒ will see 1,000 pop-up shops open in China in the biggest Alibaba brick-and-mortar outposts. ‘This edition is highly indicative of a major business trend seen in 2017: the push by pure players to establish themselves in the physical world,’ explains Jean-Marc Mégnin. Alibaba bought the Hema chain of local food markets; Amazon acquired Whole Foods; Walmart and Google formed a partnership… This year, Alibaba is using Singles’ Day to establish the ‘new retail’ concept, which is the culmination of sales that are channel-free and highly digitalised. After cross-, multi- and omni-channel, I’m convinced that the Chinese group is in the process of inventing no-channel retail! ‘
‘The new retail concept encompasses the digitalisation of all merchant processes and a seamless flow: from shopping to stock management to product design even,’ declared Daniel Zhang, Alibaba CEO, during a press conference. The new retail concept shows us how business might be done in the future.’
With multiple digital screens for optimal immersion experiences, very limited stock in stores and home delivery in less than a day, there is a complete fusion of physical and digital, driven by the omnipresence of smartphones configured to do anything…or just nearly! ‘The phenomenon is all the more important and strategic because the Chinese no longer go to stores to shop,’ Jean-Marc Mégnin notes.
Tmall Fashion Festival, ‘See now, buy now’
As part of this major event, for the second straight year, Alibaba Group also offered its ‘See now, buy now’ fashion show concept. The show was in Shanghai on Tuesday, 31 October; the four-hour spectacle was broadcast live in its entirety on over seven Chinese channels. 50 brands (Gap, Adidas, etc.) paid to take part in this incredible event. ‘Using a mobile app, Chinese consumers had the ability to watch the fashion show in augmented reality,’ recounts Jean-Marc Mégnin. Are you interested in this shirt? Within a few seconds, the product description is displayed and users can buy and reserve it. This same augmented reality system should also be up and running in the pop-up shops on 11.11. ‘
Aiming for futures alliances
Yes, 2017 is decidedly the year when pure players decided to invest in the physical world, to the tune of billions of dollars. And even the world’s biggest shopping event is falling into step with nearly as much activity offline as online.
‘The historic retailers are saying they want to reinvent stores…make them magical again,’ sums up Jean-Marc Mégnin. ‘But it will be the pure players who pull it off. And they will have to forge alliances, rather than continue to fight them.’
If you want to follow 11.11 in China as it happens (but with a seven-hour time lag as 6:00 pm in China is 11:00 am in Europe), head to www.alizila.com.