E-commerce is all about creating a frictionless experience to help ease shoppers in and out of the platform, but Alibaba turned that approach on its head for Singles Day, with a “stickiness strategy” to keep people on its sites for longer.

That’s why the day had entertainment and relationship-building elements that were way beyond shopping. Its video arm Youku, for example, featured performances from Taylor Swift, Kana Hanazawa, and Aida Garifullina.

As Geometry’s global CEO Beth Ann Kaminkow put it: “The minute I understood that insight and I saw that difference, it explained everything for me when I start to think about how the consumer experience is changing in China.”

It’s quite unlike the West, on online platforms like Amazon, eBay or Walmart, where “it’s really about helping the user find what they’re looking for, get it into their baskets and make the purchase happen”.

Alibaba’s platform strategy on Singles Day then was not to get shoppers in and out as quickly as possible, said Kaminkow in a WARC interview. (For more details, read WARC’s report: Alibaba is the opposite of frictionless – and it worked for its 2019 Singles’ Day.)

Instead, it was about giving them a place where they could dive deeper into the brand experience through celebrity endorsement, video content, gamification of Alibaba-owned apps, or sharing their savvy discount strategies with people around them to enhance their social currency.

And not just on the day itself: pre-sales campaigns and promotions since 21 Oct also kept consumers longer on Alibaba.

Exclusive pre-sales offers encouraged consumers to add products to shopping carts 20 days prior to the event. Additional discounts only applied if shoppers paid non-refundable deposits upfront (and cancelling pre-orders or failing to pay balances on 11 Nov itself would cause shoppers to forfeit their deposits).

These tactics also meant brand owners could generate maximum one-day gross merchandise value (GMV). The way in which one calculates GMV is a whole other question, but on Alibaba’s definition it was up 26% on 2018.

Sourced from WARC