Nov 11 shop­ping gala to be truly global

China Daily European Weekly - - Busi­ness - By HE WEI in Hangzhou hewei@chi­nadaily.com.cn

AliEx­press plan­ning to lever­age so­cial me­dia and AI ca­pa­bil­i­ties

Alibaba Group Hold­ing Ltd is mak­ing its iconic Nov 11 shop­ping gala “a truly global event” by in­tro­duc­ing mas­sive pre­sales ac­tiv­i­ties and smart rec­om­men­da­tion mech­a­nisms to over­seas buy­ers for the first time.

AliEx­press, a re­tail sub­sidiary of Alibaba that al­lows Chi­nese mer­chants to sell di­rectly to for­eign cus­tomers, will lever­age so­cial me­dia and ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence ca­pa­bil­i­ties to at­tract global con­sumers to spend big dur­ing the an­nual fes­ti­val, known as Sin­gles Day.

The site, whose user num­ber jumped by 50 per­cent in the past year to hit 150 mil­lion, plans to team up with lead­ing so­cial me­dia plat­forms such as Face­book, In­sta­gram and YouTube to draw in shop­pers through per­son­al­ized ad­ver­tise­ments.

“So­cial com­merce is the next bat­tle­field and has huge po­ten­tial as we march over­seas,” says Wang Mingqiang, gen­eral man­ager of AliEx­press.

The com­pany will bank on a net­work of in­ter­net celebri­ties to pro­mote dif­fer­ent mer­chan­dise to users of var­i­ous na­tion­al­i­ties. So­cial me­dia per­son­al­i­ties will be­come skilled at con­vert­ing their in­flu­ence into cash while help­ing to boost mer­chants’ rev­enue, Wang says.

Jacky Tang, gen­eral man­ager of Reo Com­mu­ni­ca­tions, a Shang­hai-based so­cial me­dia agency, says: “Glob­ally, young cus­tomers don’t ac­cept ad­ver­tis­ing at face value and don’t take ven­dors at their word. They tend to check on­line for prod­uct re­views, swap links to fa­vored prod­ucts and seek out third-party op­tions. That has made so-called key opin­ion lead­ers very con­vinc­ing.”

A to­tal of $1 mil­lion (856,000 euros; £761,000) in cash in­cen­tives is up for grabs among avid buy­ers, and they stand to ben­e­fit from lucky draws that lead to pay­ment ex­emp­tions.

Mean­while, AI is re­defin­ing the shop­ping ex­pe­ri­ence with sub­tle en­hance­ments for mil­lions of global shop­pers, Wang says.

“These in­clude un­can­nily pre­cise prod­uct search re­sults and vir­tual store­fronts that dis­play in­for­ma­tion tai­lored to in­di­vid­ual shop­pers based on their unique char­ac­ter­is­tics and pref­er­ences, as well as or­ders that are de­liv­ered in hours in­stead of days,” he says.

On Sept 11, Alibaba formed a joint ven­ture with Rus­sia’s sovereign wealth fund, tele­com com­pany Me­gaFon and in­ter­net com­pany Mail.Ru Group to boost its de­vel­op­ment in the na­tion, the top des­ti­na­tion for AliEx­press. Other strate­gic pri­or­i­ties in­clude East­ern Europe and the Mid­dle East.

XU KANGPING / FOR CHINA DAILY

Alibaba staff pose for a photo with a back­ground of a gi­ant screen in Shang­hai show­ing the record 168.2 bil­lion yuan ($25.3 bil­lion; 21.5 bil­lion euros; £19 bil­lion) in on­line sales on Nov 11, 2017, the world’s largest day­long dis­count gala.

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