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How 180,000 stores in China will join Alibaba’s big online sale

October 26, 2015 12:50 PM
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Alibaba Group turned Nov. 11 into the world’s biggest online shopping day, known as Singles’ Day in China. This year it’s bringing Singles’ Day to bricks-and-mortar retail stores.

Participating this year will be more than 1,000 brands and retailers that operate 180,000 stores or booths within stores and malls in 330 cities across China, Alibaba says.

Consumers who place orders Nov. 11 on Alibaba’s Tmall marketplace will have the option to pick up purchases in participating stores or have those stores ship items to their homes, Zhang Kuo, senior business director at Alibaba’s mobile business unit, tells Internet Retailer. That can get parcels to consumers faster than if distribution centers handle the order.

“Dozens of brands have connected their store systems with Tmall’s online store so that they can fulfill the online orders from the nearest stores,” Zhang says. “Consumers get the orders faster. They can pick up online orders in the store or choose to get the orders shipped from store.”

Among the Western brands participating in the Alibaba promotions are cosmetics company Estée Lauder Cos. and candy maker Mars Inc.

Stores already are promoting coupons consumers can use online during the massive Singles’ Day sale. Chinese online consumers purchased more than $9 billion worth of products during the 2014 Single’s Day event on Alibaba’s marketplaces. Alibaba’s big online shopping portals in China—Taobao, Tmall and Juhuasuan—account for about 80% of online retail purchases in China.

A consumer can use her mobile phone to scan QR codes on posters in stores to obtain coupons she can use on Alibaba’s marketplaces during the 24-hour online sales Nov. 11. Alibaba estimates consumers will redeem $7 billion worth of coupons this Singles’ Day.

In addition, Alibaba and large Chinese department store chain Intime Retail (Group) Co. Ltd. are testing a technology they call “Magic Mirror” that lets a shopper scan a barcode in a store that, through the Taobao shopping app on the phone, identifies her and provides data on her shopping history. The system then recommends products based on the merchandise available in the store she’s in. Alibaba invested $692 million in 2014 to acquire a stake of roughly 35% in Intime.

“Before, some store chains saw e-commerce as an enemy,” Zhang says. “Now they realize e-commerce is an unstoppable trend and start to actively work with e-commerce companies.”

Alibaba in 2009 turned what had been a kind of anti-Valentine’s Day in China—celebrating someone’s single status—into a big online sales day by encouraging single consumers to go online to buy themselves something nice. Alibaba’s success has led many other online and offline retailers in China to offer online deals on Nov. 11. 

 

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