US$1 billion in first five minutes of 11.11

Alibaba Group says more than US$7 billion (RMB 47.5 billion) of gross merchandise volume (GMV) was settled through Alipay on Alibaba’s China and international retail marketplaces within the first two hours of the 2016 11.11 Global Shopping Festival.

And more than $1 billion was transacted in the first five minutes – from 12 midnight.

“Chinese consumers purchased more in the first hour of 11.11 this year than the entire 24 hours in 2013, reflecting the incredible evolution of our global shopping festival,” said Daniel Zhang, Alibaba Group CEO. “This unprecedented level of engagement demonstrates both the consumption power of Chinese consumers and their embrace of online shopping as a lifestyle.”

In the hours leading up to the official midnight start of November 11, millions of viewers watched the Alibaba Group 11.11 Global Shopping Festival Countdown Gala live online and on mobile devices via Youku Tudou, and the Tmall and Taobao apps. The gala was televised live across China through Zhejiang Satellite TV, as well as in Hong Kong and Macau for the first time.

“This year, we innovated new ways for consumers watching the live broadcast of our countdown gala. Viewers were able to influence the production of the show in real-time through their mobile phones,” said Chris Tung, chief marketing officer, Alibaba Group. “Consumers in front of their televisions were shaking, tapping, scanning, chatting, browsing and buying with their mobile devices, creating a seamless and truly immersive entertainment experience.”

VR drives surge

International think tank Fung Global Retail & Technology predicts sales of $20 billion during the full 24 hours, up an extraordinary 40 per cent over last year’s total of $14.3 billion, thanks in part to the introduction of Buy+, the world’s first-ever end-to-end virtual reality (VR) shopping experience.

“Buy+ will enable global retailers (even those without a physical presence in China) to offer an engaging, virtual in-store experience to Chinese consumers,” writes Fung Global Retail & Technology MD Deborah Weinswig in Singles’ Day Online Shopping Festival Could Also Benefit Retailers’ Physical Stores, a new report.

The platform features eight virtual stores: Macy’s, Target, Costco, P&G, Chemist Warehouse, Freedom Foods, Tokyo Otaku Mode and Matsumoto Kiyoshi. Using cardboard VR headsets distributed in October, consumers can virtually walk around Macy’s Herald Square flagship in New York City to find products and, with just a nod of the head, confirm payment to purchase an item they see.

“One of Alibaba’s strategies for Singles’ Day is to merge gamification with online shopping. The company will leverage its media and entertainment assets to drive increased online consumption,” says Weinswig.

These include a televised countdown gala event and fashion show that was held last evening. In addition, the company is promoting products on TV screens, allowing viewers to scan QR codes for a real-time purchase.

The concept has expanded beyond Alibaba, with chief rival JD.com, Gome and Suning also creating promotions. International retailers will target Chinese shoppers, and Chinese retailers target international shoppers. In 2015, Newegg, OTTE New York and Nasty Gal, all launched Singles’ Day promotions.

“A year ago, Alibaba promised that Singles’ Day will be a true omni-channel event, and this year the company seems dedicated to continue delivering on the promise, armed with more technological innovations that bridge the gap between the virtual and physical worlds,” Weinswig writes.

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