The Sagence Connection

One Is Not the Loneliest Number for Alibaba

Posted by Ryan Liebman

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11/30/16 12:26 PM

If you haven’t heard of National Singles Day, the Chinese pop culture holiday that celebrates young people proud to be single, you probably don’t—or shouldn’t—work in the retail industry. Alibaba’s 11.11 Global Shopping Festival has gradually become one of the largest online shopping days in the world - making Alibaba a master of retail localization strategy.

Take a look at these numbers (GMV-total sales dollar value-in U.S. dollars) from Alibaba's sites, Tmall and Taobao:

  • 2013: $5.8 billion
  • 2014: $9.3 billion
  • 2015: $14.3 billion
  • 2016: $17.8 billion

As a reference, here in the United States Cyber Monday and Black Friday combined were expected to generate US$5.81 billion dollars – across all e-commerce sites.

As Singles Day continues to grow in popularity, new innovations are revolutionizing the way Alibaba brings the shopping experience to the Chinese consumer. On 11.11.16, Alibaba showcased its Buy+ virtual shopping experience at the Taobao Maker Festival, an offline shopping event targeting millennial consumers. And on, consumers could purchase a cardboard version of the VR headset premiered at the festival. Combining the headset with a smartphone, consumers were able to virtually browse products from different brick and mortar retail shops across the world. Within one hour of launching 11.11, 30,000 people tried the platform.

Sagence Retail Industry Alibaba Post.jpg


Alibaba’s entrance into the virtual reality world is just beginning. In March of 2016 they opened a VR research laboratory called the GnomeMagic Lab. They plan to enable retailers to create their own 3D product inventories, and with Alibaba’s enormous volume of user-data, retailers will take one virtual step closer to their consumers.

Jack Ma, chairman of Alibaba, once said that Alibaba is no longer an e-commerce company, but a data company. Alibaba owns the data of hundreds of millions of Chinese consumers. By mining the data of its e-commerce, social sharing, payments, and location-based services, Alibaba is able to help retailers create a highly personalized experience for each individual, creating new opportunities for brands to engage with their customers. Retailers can customize their storefronts, product selections, and marketing materials so that every consumer sees unique search results and recommendations on their Tmall app, China’s premier online shopping destination.

During Shanghai’s Taobao Maker Festival, many global heavyweights such as Apple, P&G, L’Oreal, Estee Lauder, Costco, Target, and Maserati were in attendance. As were tens of thousands of smaller brands from the United States, Europe, Japan, Korea, and Australia. And for good reason. Goldman Sachs estimates the market for virtual- and augmented-reality retail would be worth $1.6 billion by 2025. 11.11 has become a “must-do” for the world’s most valuable brands.

Alibaba is reinventing retail through a highly sophisticated localization strategy. To learn more about retail localization strategies, download our POV below.

Download Localization POV


Sagence works with industry-leading retailers providing data-driven, strategic, end-to-end data management services. To learn more about Sagence’s perspective on the future of the retail industry, please visit the Retail section of our website or contact us directly.


Topics: Retail Industry


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