Sin­gles Day sales to hit $20b this year

China Daily (USA) - - BUSINESS - By AN­GUS MCNEICE in Lon­don an­gus@mail.chi­nadai­lyuk.com

Re­tail mar­ket an­a­lysts pre­dicted that Novem­ber’s big shop­ping frenzy — the Chi­nain­spired Sin­glesDay— will see a year-on-year sales in­crease of 40 per­cent, as Alibaba Group Hold­ing Ltd and ma­jor in­ter­na­tional brands use vir­tual and aug­mented re­al­ity to woo on­line shop­pers.

Sim­i­lar to the UK and US shop­ping day Black Fri­day, Chi­nese on­line re­tail­ers will of­fer a slew of pro­mo­tions on Nov 11, and could gen­er­ate up to $20 bil­lion sales this year, a 40 per­cent in­crease on last year’s gross mer­chan­dise vol­umeof $14.3 bil­lion, ac­cord­ing to Fung Global Re­tail & Tech­nol­ogy. The 2015 fig­ure rep­re­sented a year-on-year in­crease of 54 per­cent.

This year, more Bri­tish on­line re­tail­ers are join­ing in with spe­cific of­fers tar­geted at China.

In terms of on­line sales vol­umes, Sin­gles Day dwarfs Black Fri­day, the shop­ping hol­i­day that un­of­fi­cially marks the start of Christ­mas shop­ping in the United King­dom andUnited States, fall­ing on Nov 25 this year. Last year, Bri­tons spent $1.35 bil­lion and Amer­i­cans spent $5.8 bil­lion on­line over Black Fri­day and its web-based equiv­a­lent Cy­berMon­day.

Fung Global said its 2016 fore­cast was driven by a tail­wind from Chi­nese on­line shop­pers’ de­mand for over­seas goods and by ex­pec­ta­tions for Alibaba’s ex­ten­sive mar­ket­ing cam­paign, which this year ex­ploits vir­tual and aug­mented re­al­ity fea­tures.

Alibaba will pi­lot Buy+, a VR head­set which will al­low shop­pers to walk around sim­u­la­tions of bricks-and-mor­tar stores in lo­ca­tions around the globe, sim­ply nod­ding to con­firm pur­chase of items. Macy’s Inc’s flag­ship store in New York is among par­tic­i­pat­ing re­tail­ers.

Bri­tish su­per­mar­ket chain Sains­bury Plc has used a vir­tual re­al­ity pro­mo­tion tool on Alibaba’s on­line store Tmall in Au­gust. Sains­bury’s reached top spot on Tmall in terms of or­ders dur­ing a one-and-a-half hour 360-de­gree live broad­cast of its su­per­mar­kets in Lon­don. The event was the sec­ond most pop­u­lar pro­mo­tion since Sains­bury’s live broad­casted an af­ter­noon tea party on the Queen’s birth­day.

Alibaba has also re­leased a lo­ca­tion-based aug­mented re­al­ity Poke­mon Go-style mo­bile app ahead of Sin­gles Day. The com­pany hopes to drive traf­fic from on­line stores to the phys­i­cal stores of Tmall mer­chants as users fol­low an an­i­mated mas­cot on their phones through real city streets. In­ter­na­tional brands tak­ing part in­clude KFC and Star­bucks.

A num­ber of Bri­tish brands will of­fer dis­counts spe­cific to Sin­gles Day this year. Cof­fee spe­cial­ists Whit­tard of Chelsea, Liver­pool Foot­ball Club and pet food provider Bob Martin will all be of­fer­ing Sin­gles Day dis­counts for the first time, ac­cord­ing to a Tmall rep­re­sen­ta­tive.

Bri­tish brands re­turn­ing with ex­clu­sive Sin­gles Day pro­mo­tions in­clude Jel­ly­cat, Cam­bridge Satchel, Myprotein and iconic fash­ion brand Burberry.

Other ma­jor in­ter­na­tional brands join­ing for the first time in­clude Tar­get, Maserati, Ap­ple, and Guer­lain, while Zara, Bose, Sam­sung, Es­tee Lauder, L’Oreal P&G, and Unilever are all set to come back.

Re­turn­ing cloth­ing and sports­wear brands Uniqlo, Nike, Adi­das, and New Bal­ance were among the most pop­u­lar brands in 2015. In­ter­na­tional brands are made avail­able through coun­tryspe­cific por­tals on the Tmall web­site.

Sev­eral of Alibaba’s com­peti­tors are mak­ing moves ahead of Sin­gles Day.

Kaola, the e-com­merce and cross-bor­der plat­form of in­ter­net ser­vice provider NetEase Inc, is part­ner­ing with Aus­tralian brands UGG and Bel­lamy’s Or­ganic.

amount spent on­line by Bri­tons dur­ing Black Fri­day and Cy­ber Mon­day last year

Dai Tian in Lon­don con­trib­uted to this story.

WANG BIAO / FOR CHINA DAILY

Work­ers at an on­line mer­chant pre­pare prod­ucts for the Nov 11 shop­ping spree in Fuyang, An­hui prov­ince.

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