Alibaba hosted an eight-hour fashion show as part of its run-up to Singles Day on Nov. 11 and announced new programs designed to drive traffic and sales.
The event featured hundreds of models wearing apparel from 80 different brands including Gap, Paul Smith and New Balance, according to Fortune. It was broadcast on Alibaba's video site Youku while its Tmall shopping site sold items when users clicked the "See Now, Buy Now" button.
It's all part of Alibaba's lead into the massive shopping event 11.11 Global Shopping Festival, more popularly known as Singles' Day.
Alibaba announced a string of events leading up to Nov. 11 at a press conference that included representatives from global brands including Macy's and Costco.
"11.11 has evolved far beyond a 24-hours sales event," said Alibaba CEO Daniel Zhang. "From today through Nov. 11, consumers will discover, explore, play, watch, comment, share, recommend and shop across our entire ecosystem with our merchants both online and offline. Leveraging our robust infrastructure, global merchants have been empowered with unprecedented capability to seamlessly engage and serve customers through new technology and new environments."
Through Nov. 11, Alibaba will livestream events from brand partners and host a variety of interactive events.
New technology will be put to use through a pilot program called “Buy+”, a virtual reality shopping experience that transports shoppers to select retail stores and provides a virtual shopping trip from product selection to payment, all through VR.
Additionally, Alibaba will release a location-based augmented reality mobile game two weeks before Singles' Day that lets users follow Alibaba's Tmall Cat mascot on an adventure across the Alibaba online and offline retail ecosystem to earn special promotions and prizes.
Singles' Day is a bonanza for Alibaba, which reportedly took in $14.3 billion last year. Other retailers in China and the United States have begun to create more targeted promotions both online and at brick-and-mortar stores with the addition of deals designed to drive in-store visits.
Walmart announced it would open a Sam's Club storefront at JD.com, its online retailer partner in China, and increase its investment in that site leading up to Singles' Day.