What's Next In: Retail


As the countdown to Black Friday and Cyber Monday begins, we look back at Double-11 in China, the world’s largest shopping festival, and the three e-commerce trends that led the way in this year’s global shopping phenomenon.

The Double-11 shopping bonanza ran from Oct 24th to Nov 11th and generated an estimated GMV (gross merchandise value) of RMB 930 – 990billion (USD 130 – 138 billion) among Tmall, JD and Douyin, according to data from GroupM Commerce.  The shopping event celebrated its 14th anniversary this year and it was the most diverse event for participating merchants, with 290,000 brands and 21 million products participating, based on a Hangzhou Daily report. As the Double-11 event has now become more mature, e-commerce platforms and brands not only demonstrate mastery in ‘retail-tainment’, they also actively joined the fight for climate change by promoting green shopping initiatives.

Let’s look at the top three trends from this year’s Double-11: 

1.    Diversified Livestreaming Content

“Livestreaming has become a storytelling format for delivering product information. Consumers are getting used to longing for a particular product through content consumption” said Chui Xue, President of Industry Development and Operation Center of Taobao and Tmall.  Livestreaming has also become a vehicle for delivering great customer experience and promoting live interactions that engage people and inspires them to stay on the shopping platform longer.  This year, we saw a diversification of livestreaming content from celebrity live, KOL live, shop live to live Q&A discussions that encourage netizens to participate and win instant shopping rewards.  Even the premier US outlet mall, Woodbury Common, livestreamed Chinese customers into the outlet to browse the mall’s stores and buy items directly from the mall.  Mandarin-speaking French KOL duo  XinShiDanDan hosted the livestream.

2.    Eco-friendly Shopping

Beyond commercial value, e-commerce platforms are also putting more emphasis on creating social value by focusing on green and environmental protection initiatives.  Tmall has added labels to educate shoppers about low-carbon products.  P&G, Haier, ThinkPad, and Yili have co-branded with Tmall to offer free shopping bags made from plastic bottles to reward greener consumption.  JD launched Green Plan to help shoppers design an eco-friendly consumption habit, guide them to shop for low-carbon products, and deepen their environmental protection experience.  Luxury fashion re-sale platform Hongbulin reported over 100,000 consumers participated in secondhand consumption during this year’s Double-11, with the top three best-selling brands being Chanel, Louis Vuitton and Gucci. China’s luxury re-sale market is growing rapidly due to consumers’ changing attitudes towards luxury used goods as well as young consumers’ willingness to buy used clothing and accessories.

3.    Virtually Immersive Shopping

Tmall led the way in using virtual reality to enhance the shopping experience.  Ali Cloud and XR Lab launched the first immersive VR neighborhood on Taobao, letting shoppers adopt virtual characters, enter virtual stores and browse products in the neighborhood.  On the Tmall app, shoppers could become virtual characters and travel to different brand pavilions and experience 3D shopping.  The immersive experience allowed shoppers to execute virtual try-ons, visit virtual exhibitions and watch TV dramas while shopping, all without VR/AR headsets or goggles.  Taobao created “Future City” to let people experience the virtual world and discover the future of shopping. The virtual city also held the first-ever all-star virtual idol singing variety show.  Tmall Luxury debuted its first virtual influencer curator, TIMO, to guide shoppers through 3D digital collectibles, international brand exhibitions and digital art galleries.

As China continues to lead the world with progressive shopping experiences it’ll be particularly interesting to see how this year’s Black Friday and Cyber Monday stack up.

Happy shopping everyone!

Bev Ho
Head of Business Strategy & Global Client Partnerships