HANGZHOU: Alibaba, the Chinese e-commerce giant, kicked off its annual 11.11 sales event with a “See Now, Buy Now” multichannel fashion show earlier this week, and the company’s Chief Marketing Officer sees the promotion as the future of retail.

“The real reason to pay attention to 11.11 for those outside of China is that it gives you a glimpse into the future of retail,” said Chris Tung in an interview with Alizila, a news portal owned by Alibaba that focuses on the company’s news.

“We will be unveiling new innovations that change the retail game not just in the online world, but also helping physical retailers enhance their operations and the experience for consumers through digital technology,” he added.

The See Now, Buy Now show was broadcast across seven media channels, including Beijing TV and other terrestrial broadcasters, social media platform Weibo, as well as Alibaba’s online marketplaces Taobao and Tmall.

Featuring live-streaming and short content videos, it allowed viewers to buy products on the spot – an important consideration for Chinese consumers, who are well-versed in using their mobile devices to shop.

Speaking ahead of the interactive fashion show, Tung explained: “This is a great way to kick off the 11.11 holiday shopping season, which really is a season, not just a one-day sale.

“Consumers look forward to this time of year and expect to be surprised and delighted by the latest innovations that make shopping more entertaining and seamless.”

He said that 11.11 generated just $8.6m in sales when the Single’s Day event was first launched in 2009, but it took around $17.8bn in 2016 – or more than 18 times the size of Amazon Prime Day – and making the sales festival fun and engaging is key to its success.

“What you see over the years is our commitment to making this festival more and more engaging and inclusive,” Tung said. “Sure, consumers get great deals on products and brands from around the world on 11.11. But it’s also a fun festive season they look forward to celebrating with family and friends,” he added.

“We’re talking about the entertainment factor as the great differentiator.”

Sourced from Alizila; additional content by WARC staff