Alibaba has launched its 11.11 Global Shopping Festival for 2017, signing up over 140,000 brands to take part in the annual sales event.
The occasion, previously known as Singles Day, is a 24-hour sales event that originated in China, which Alibaba promotes with a live show and online and offline retail activity. This year the theme will sit alongside the e-commerce businesses’ strategic vision for ‘New Retail’ by focusing on future retail innovation at an “unprecedented scale”.
Alibaba is to host 11.11 on 10 November this year and today marks the start of three weeks of digital marketing activity from the ecommerce brand to build anticipation. Central to the marketing activity is a major Gala event, which Alibaba chief marketing officer Chris Tung hopes will become “bigger than Christmas”.
It plans to announce the full details of this year’s festivities on 31 October but has teased elements related to the ‘New Retail’ theme today.
According to Alibaba, it wants to show what is possible for retail by “infusing physical retail elements in social media, interactive content, and entertainment in one platform at an unprecedented scale”.
At the higher end of the scale, over 1000 brands will be turning 100,000 physical retail spaces into ‘smart stores’, showing off some of the ‘New Retail’ experiences that Alibaba believes is key to its future. These include online browsing, shopping guides, virtual fitting rooms, digital payments and delivery.
On a more local level, 600,000 convenience stores in China and 30,000 Rural Taobao Service Centers will take part by using technology on its merchandising and inventory systems, partnering with brands such as Mondelez, Lay’s, Ferrero and P&G to reach more customers.
As a more consumer-facing execution, it’ll bring back its Pokemon Go-style AR gaming strategy from 2016 in the shape of 'Catch the Cat', which will allow Chinese consumers to earn coupons when they find and scan the Tmall mascot via the Mobile Taobao app. According to Alibaba, Tmall mascots will be featured in stores for mainstream brands, such as Starbucks and KFC across China.
Alibaba founder Jack Ma this week outlined its overall ‘Alibaba Economy’ strategy in his annual letter to shareholders, of which ‘New Retail’ is one of five main pillars. The other pillars are 'New Finance', 'New Manufacturing', 'New Technology' and 'New Energy'.