Shopping bags

Shopping should be a frictionless event for consumers. Source: Shutterstock

Step aside Black Friday – it’s the 11.11 Global Shopping Festival

The Alibaba group has kicked off the holiday season with the announcement of its 11.11 Global Shopping Festival, which it claims, dwarfs Black Friday for the amount of merchandise sold in any concentrated sales effort.

The festival will consist of more than three weeks of interactive marketing promotions and new product announcements from across the globe.

On October 31st, Alibaba will hold a press conference in Shanghai to announce details of the activities around this year’s 11.11 festival. Promotions are expected to include 15 million products from 140,000 brands – with 60,000 international brands available on Alibaba’s platforms.

Traditional physical retail will combine with social media promotions, interactive content and undisclosed ‘entertainment’ elements in one ecosystem designed to maximize sales.

A thousand brands are set to convert 100,000 physical locations into ‘smart stores’ which will employ technology in various guises to present virtual fitting rooms, shopping tours, and digital browsing.

In excess of 600,000 local convenience stores and 30,000 rural Taobao service centers will take part by utilizing Alibaba’s ‘one-stop solution’, which digitizes retail management to assist stores in merchandising and managing inventories, among other functions. These smaller outlets will share platforms with global brands such as Mondelez, Ferrero and Procter & Gamble.

An augmented reality game (similar to Pokemon Go) will allow Chinese customers to earn special coupons, money-off vouchers, and other promotional goodies when they find the Tmall mascot, which will appear in thousands of retail outlets including Starbucks and KFC.

Tmall will offer over 100 Chinese brands outside the country, promoting offers and specials to the 100 million or so Chinese consumers living and working abroad in Asia and across the world.

Alibaba’s Cainiao Network of logistics is gearing up to handle the millions of packages that will be sent during the shopping festival. Cainiao Network will invest over US$200 million helping retailers and its logistics partners to handle the sudden demand spike.

Hollywood producer David Hill will direct the 11.11 Global Shopping Festival Gala, to be held in Shanghai on November 10, which will be live-streamed by Beijing TV, Shenzen TV, and Zhejiang TV.