Alibaba (NYSE:BABA) is taking its famous online 11.11 shopping festival, also referred to as Singles Day, off-line by enlisting roughly 180,000 storefronts to participate.
Singles Day was created in 2009, and Alibaba Group's 11.11 Global Shopping Celebration now generates more sales than Black Friday and Cyber Monday combined.
This year, more than 1,000 retail brands with 180,000 stores in 330 cities across China will participate in the event. In Beijing alone, more than 8,000 stores will take part in the festival.
"Omnichannel retailing is one of the key initiatives for this year's 11.11 Global Shopping Festival. It marks the first step in achieving the full integration of digital and physical commerce," said Jeff Zhang, president of China Retail Marketplaces at Alibaba Group. "Alibaba Group is dedicated to working with brands and retailers to facilitate their transition from traditional to omnichannel retailing."
One of the participating retailers—electronics retailer Suning—identified omnichannel as a new shopping experience for shoppers in China. "Omnichannel retailing allows traditional businesses to keep pace with the rapidly changing retail environment," said Sun Weimin, vice chairman of Suning Commerce Group, in a statement. "By synchronizing online and off-line resources, retailers can provide their customers with a convenient shopping experience."
Product offerings will be the same both in-store and online, but participating retailers will offer promotions designed to maximize the omnichannel experience, including discounts sent via Alibaba's Taobao mobile app using location-based technology. Shoppers can scan a barcode on the in-store signage for a chance to win discounted e-coupons.
There will also be the option to buy online and pick up in stores.
Alibaba is helping retail partners maximize the after-sale. For example, it is setting up Tmall service stations in more than 1,600 Suning stores to manage service issues including returns and exchanges.
Alibaba's Singles Day—or the 11.11 Shopping Festival—ranks as the busiest online shopping day in China. Approximately $9.3 billion in merchandise was sold during the 2014 event
The 2015 event seems designed to not only boost brick-and-mortar sales, but to showcase Alibaba's efforts to provide omnichannel services to its retail and brand partners.
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