Alibaba’s 11.11 Shopping Festival Sets the Gold Standard for Marketplace Customer Experience
Alibaba’s 11.11, or Singles Day, is the largest online shopping festival in the world. Running from November 1-11, Singles Day 2021 features new marketplace innovations from Alibaba, prioritizing the end-to-end customer shopping experience as Chinese consumers browse for over 290,000 brands this year. Read on to learn how Alibaba has reimagined the likes of marketplace shopping for its 2021 festival season and beyond.
Alibaba’s Singles Day is the Premiere Online Shopping Season Globally
Alibaba’s Singles Day is an online shopping festival that runs annually in November. Promoting offerings on several of its subsidiary platforms, including Tmall and Taobao, the festival is the largest in the world, grossing $74.1B USD in 2020. (In comparison, Black Friday and Cyber Monday combined generated $25B USD in revenue in 2020). Tmall is the largest B2C e-commerce platform in China, capturing over 55% market share. While the festival is based in China, it features a host of international brands; in 2020 12.4% of participant-brands were international, with U.S. brands ranking #2 in sales following Chinese brands. Particularly concerning Luxury goods, Alibaba has rolled out a suite of innovations for this year’s shopping season on Tmall’s Luxury Pavilion.
Tmall’s Luxury Pavilion Offers a Glimpse into the Future of Mass Marketplace Shopping
With most luxury purchases in China still taking place in physical retail stores, online and omnichannel penetration has steadily increased. According to Bain & Company, in 2020 online luxury purchases topped out at 23% in 2020, almost double the penetration from 12% in 2019. Singles Day 2021 boasts a record level of luxury brand participation. In an attempt to capture additional market share this season, here’s what to expect in terms of innovation from Tmall’s luxury marketplace:
- Trend-focused vignettes and emphasis on livestreaming events: Alibaba created a comprehensive trend-focus that incorporates product from all its 200+ luxury merchants. Livestreaming events are integral to the platform, Tmall luxury platform consolidates the events all in one place for the new and veteran luxury customer alike.
- Implementation of post-purchase care options: For the first time, customers can opt-in for post-purchase product care directly from the T-mall Luxury Pavilion marketplace. This omnichannel integration with luxury partners is pivotal for high-value items that require interaction with in-store teams to arrange maintenance directly from the brand.
- Personalization at the forefront of the shopping experience: AR technology allows customers to try on products such as makeup, jewelry, and shoes, again mimicking the in-store experience online. This also assists retailers with lowering their e-commerce return rates, giving customers a more realistic idea of what products will look like before they receive them.
- Bringing the physical showroom experience online: Retailers and brands are bringing their physical storefronts to customers through virtual 3-D showroom tours. These tours allow customers to navigate the storefronts via their web or mobile devices, conflating the in-store and online experience.
Tmall’s Suite of Innovations Challenge Other Marketplace Giants
Tmall’s innovations surrounding the end-to-end customer experience serve as a wakeup call to Amazon and other major marketplaces globally. There is significant white space surrounding CX improvements on marketplaces, specifically in terms of product discovery, brand control and post-purchase support. Tmall serves as a best-in-class example at present of how technology conglomerates, like Alibaba, are working to improve the marketplace customer experience in collaboration with global brands and retailers.
Alibaba’s marketplace innovations put pressure on its counterparts to develop beyond the template-like retail platform environments they offer for their vendors and afford their merchants the opportunity to communicate their brand messaging to customers directly from the marketplace. Regarding sharing data with merchants, Alibaba again meets success as they provide meaningful insights to global brands selling on their marketplace. Although not limited to the luxury space, this serves as a catalyst for the expansion of the Luxury Pavilion, serving as critical testing and insight programs for luxury brands to understand the Chinese customer and develop their digital strategies accordingly.
Customers are emerging from the pandemic fluent in omnichannel purchasing. Thus, it is paramount for brands to leverage technology platforms to communicate their brand and store experience to customers in the digital space.
Additional Areas of Focus for Alibaba Prioritize Sustainability, Cross-Border Initiatives
Not known as a sustainability leader, Alibaba is notably placing an emphasis on sustainability throughout this year’s 11.11 promotions, offering over 100M yuan ($15M USD) worth of “green” vouchers to incentivize customers to shop sustainably. This mindset extends through assortment and packaging, as the company is leveraging brand collaborations that highlight low carbon products. Alibaba’s logistics network, Cainiao, is rolling out package recycling stations to 10,000 post stations countrywide.
Cross-border e-commerce is also top-of-mind for the company, as travel restrictions relating to COVID-19 remain for most Chinese shoppers. This has led to a surge in demand for international brands, many of which Alibaba carries on its Tmall Global marketplace.
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