November 11 is Singles’ Day in China — the biggest eCommerce event in the world. This year, Singles’ Day generated almost $18 billion in one day for Alibaba alone. For more results and analysis, see the Quick Take: AR, VR, And Global Brands Help Singles’ Day Surpass $18 Billion In Online Sales report that my colleague Lily Varon and I put together.
Singles’ Day is now a global phenomenon, blending shopping and entertainment both online and offline; it’s a far cry from its origin as a one-day, one-country, online-only shopping event. This year, newer trends like live streaming and virtual reality (VR) commerce show how eCommerce is evolving. Some of the highlights were:
- Elevating online-to-offline promotions with augmented reality (AR). Alibaba created a Pokémon-Go-like augmented reality mobile game — “Catch The Tmall Cat” — to drive traffic to the offline stores of partner retailers like Starbucks and Suning and increase sales; players could “capture” discount codes to use in stores.
- Developing live streaming as an online shopping staple. This year, Alibaba held a shoppable, live-streamed fashion show during its kickoff gala and live-streamed more than 300 shows during its 24-day promotion period. JD.com and Suning also latched on to the trend: Both teamed up with live-video platform Huajiao to provide live streaming during Singles’ Day.
- Experimenting with VR. Alibaba showcased its new Buy+ VR shopping experience, selling cardboard VR headsets for RMB 1 (about $0.15) on Taobao leading up to Singles’ Day. This enabled 8 million shoppers to try out VR shopping experiences with brands like Costco, Macy’s, Procter & Gamble, and Target. Notably, Alibaba integrated with Alipay to allow customers to check out within the VR environment.
To learn about more new trends and how to optimize shopping experiences in China to transform eCommerce, read the full report.