What is in store for Singles’ Day 2018?

Singles’ Day (11.11) 2018 which will be celebrated on 11 November, will mark the shopping event’s 10th anniversary. It would not be an exaggeration to state that 11.11 has grown much bigger than a commercial fair as is now one of the major annual milestones in China’s cultural calendar, thanks to Alibaba. This year, the company and its partners are gearing up to make this event a phenomenal shopping extravaganza, with sights set on trumping last year’s figures, there is definitely something exciting to look forward to for the shoppers.

 

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During last year’s event, 812 million parcels were delivered and this year the stakes have been raised higher as the prediction for the milestone in 2018 is more than 1 billion parcels. This could pose some serious challenges in terms of logistics and delivery. One of the ways the company is planning to counter those and preparing for the rush is by opening what is said to be the biggest robotic warehouse in China. This new warehouse positioned as an internet of things-powered, “robotic smart warehouse” will have close to 700 automated vehicles.

Another important move to tackle the delivery challenges while trying to cope up with changing demands and offering a better experience is ensuring quick delivery. Hence this year, for the first time, goods ordered during the Singles Day event will be delivered directly from the stores to the customers and in some-cases within minutes. Short-distance delivery services will also be available in more than 280 cities in the country.

This year the event will also be expanding beyond China through Lazada, the Southeast Asia online platform owned by Alibaba. This will prove to be a strategic and inspiring move in an effort to magnify the events footprint and globalize it. Moreover, this event will also witness diversification in a bigger way as it will not only be restricted to purchasing products, but also offer purchase of services.

With all this at play, one thing is sure that Alibaba would be looking to offer a brand new seamless shopping experience by heavily relying on technology such as omni-channel, AI, cloud and so on to provide an online and offline, cross-platform supply-chain solution and enabling them to cut inventory costs, while increasing operating efficiency, especially around 11.11, the busiest season of the year.

As Singles’ Day 2018 is poised to eclipse again this year, it is just a matter time when the figures start coming in and provide a clearer picture of how much more extravagant and successful this year’s event will be.

Chinese New Year is the new mega shopping festival

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Friday, 16th February 2018 marks the beginning of the Chinese New Year. The 2018 Chinese New Year – the Year of the Dog begins nineteen days later than the Chinese New Year 2017, which started on January 28. Also known as Spring Festival in China, the Chinese/Lunar New Year (CNY) is the prime national holiday in Greater China. It is also celebrated in regions with a substantial Chinese population, particularly in South-East Asia and in the Chinatowns of cities worldwide, from Vancouver in Canada to London in UK to Lima in Peru. In China, the official holiday lasts seven days.

In the weeks leading up to the Chinese New Year, shoppers purchase across several categories in preparation for the Lunar New Year, with a sales uplift in average daily sales across fashion (71%), food and groceries (101%), and health and beauty (56%).

Many sales happen on mobile devices especially through the mobile apps. In Singapore and Vietnam, sales surge in the fashion sub vertical were 29% and 99% higher in-app than on mobile web, respectively.

Data from 2017 shows a 35% overall rise in daily online retail sales across Southeast Asia around two or three weeks before Chinese New Year, meaning marketers should start their campaigns 3-4 weeks before CNY to win new customers and maximize sales.

People are also looking for experiences. Travel sales pick up 2-3 weeks before Chinese New Year and even more so in the weeks after, especially for certain countries in the region. Three weeks before Chinese New Year shows an average increase of 33% in travel sales in Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Singapore. But a larger surge occurs after Chinese New Year across the region, when Vietnam and Hong Kong see a 75% and 70% increase in daily online travel sales, respectively.

Traditionally, the festival used to be about reunions within China, where many families were separated by work during the year. Millions of economic migrants, students, office workers and others made the annual exodus from their work locations to their hometowns, leading to one of the world’s biggest mass-transportation occasion. The relatively new idea that families can enjoy time together elsewhere is also gaining popularity. A number of countries, including France, UK and the US are easing visa regulations for Chinese nationals in order to lure a lucrative influx of free-spending travelers.

The Chinese New Year (CNY) opportunity is being increasingly explored by a number of international retailers globally as Chinese consumers continue to assert their global purchasing power. With the booming numbers of Chinese travelling during the CNY period and with retailers always on the lookout for new sales opportunities, a growing focus on this mega event similar to the likes of Black Friday is necessary.

In fact, the globalization of CNY fits into a wider trend, which is seeing the reach of once-local events and promotions extend across the globe. Previously, exclusively market-specific events such as Black Friday, Oktoberfest or Singles Day are increasingly being adopted internationally – due to increased travel, the growth of ecommerce and social media, and the globalization of media in general.

With this in mind, retailers everywhere will have to take CNY seriously. This could mean partnering with strong, authentic Chinese brands (providing them an opportunity to develop in new markets), as well as investing in in-store value added services such as hiring Chinese-speaking staff or having websites developed in Mandarin/Cantonese language and bespoke promotional material specifically targeted at these shoppers.

7 Trends shaping Asia’s future retail landscape

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1. Foreign retailers focusing on core Asian markets

With the likes of China, India and other large Asian countries poised to have a large consumer base in the coming years thus creating a higher demand for international retail brands. This scenario is prompting big-name retailers to focus on capturing revenue from core Asian markets.

2. Big players emphasizing on Southeast Asian markets

As barriers to entry are erected in some of the larger Asian markets, Southeast Asian countries in-turn are seemingly converting into new playgrounds for big-name retailers.  Countries like Indonesia, which is seeing a strong population growth and a rise in the income, and Vietnam, a country which is relatively FDI-friendly, are favoring big retail players to enter these markets.

3. The line between online-offline channels are blurring

As omni-channel retailing is the new rule in the retail playbook enabling retailers to transform their business and add features such as click-and-collect, endless aisles. Further, driving engagement using retail touch-points is becoming popular favoring the connected consumers’ sentiments and preferences of swift and simplified shopping.

4. Deeper penetration

From time-to time brands are announcing the grand openings of more and more stores and outlets in Asian markets. As in China, flagship stores are popping up in tier three and tier four cities, going beyond tier one and tier two cities, other regions will also witness a similar trend in the future.

5. Discount retailing

Although the discount retail channel is not as strong as it is in Western Europe, the trend is catching on in Asian countries such as China, India and so on where discount retailing is becoming popular online and Japan in the form of 100 Yen stores.

6. Equipping for m-commerce and s-commerce

Global e-Commerce growth is going to be driven by Asian retail markets, which are equipping themselves for m-commerce and emerging forms of social media commerce. As consumers in the Asian market are heavy mobile users and active on multiple social media channels on a daily basis, retailers adding m-commerce and s-commerce capabilities will favor these consumers.

7. Importance of local shopping cultures to retail markets

As foreign retail players are looking to expand their brands and businesses into Asian markets, they will need to imbibe the local flavor of the domestic retail markets and adhere to their respective shopping cultures as these will prevail over the coming years. As such retailers entered into countries like China (the likes of Starbucks) have opened outlets that feature local tastes and preferences.

The Singles’ Day Phenomenon and what should the Indian retail businesses learn from it!

Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving in the United States, generally kicked off the holiday shopping season with crazy deals offered by retailers to get in more sales. But this year the story seems to be different. This past weekend, on November 11, or Singles’ Day, as it is popularly known in mainland China, got the global headlines gaga about it, setting a new start for the crazy shopping frenzy.

Before looking into what really happened, a brief privy about Singles’ day.
Chinese Singles’ Day or Guanggun Jie is a festival widespread among young Mainland Chinese people who celebrate the fact that they are proud of being single. The 11th day of November (11/11), is chosen because the number “1” resembles an individual that is single. As the day started getting popular, once a celebration for China’s singles, Singles’ Day has turned to be a 24 hour shopping extravaganza.

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So how did Singles’ Day 2017 create history?
This year, the sales on Singles’ Day was more than 3 times the combined sales for Black Friday and Cyber Monday 2016 of US$6.79 billion in the United States, resulting this festival being the largest offline and online shopping day in the world thanks to Alibaba, the Chinese e-Commerce giant now rivaling Amazon, doing sales 168.2 billion yuan (approx. US$25.3 billion). Looking at the previous years, Alibaba’s sites Tmall and Taobao garnered sales of US$5.8 billion in 2013, US$9.3 billion in 2014, US$14.3 billion in 2015, and US$17.8 billion in 2016. Thus, this year’s sales of above US$25 billion has broken the previous year’s record.

While the US$25.4 billion worth of sales can be etched into record books, Alibaba also set a world record for payment transactions. Its mobile wallet app Alipay processed 256,000 payment transactions per second in 2017 taking the tally of the transactions processed by Alipay in the entire 24 hours to 1.48 billion. And that is not it, the delivery orders through Cainiao – Alibaba’s logistics affiliate reached close to 700 million, breaking 2016’s record.

Alibaba said that it had turned 100,000 physical shops around China into “smart stores” for this year’s event and via these pop-up smart stores and in-store technology, Alibaba and the retail brands helped drive online traffic to brick-and-mortar stores, further erasing the boundaries between the two channels.

While all that happened in China, the Singles’ Day online shopping craze picked up in some of the Southeast Asian countries like Singapore too, where Singles’ Day is still a relatively new thing. Lazada, the Southeast Asian online retailer owned by Alibaba, sold US$123 million of merchandise, a 171 per cent increase over the previous year. Shoppers in Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, the Philippines and Vietnam ordered 6.5 million items, 191 per cent or nearly double that of last year.

4 important learnings from the Singles’ Day 2017 shopping event:

  • Omni-channel retailing is the real deal when it comes to breaking sales records in a single day eclipsing previous years’ sales, as Alibaba and participating retail brands used both physical and online channels to help consumers make the most of the festival
  • Promotions with the right messaging and at the right time can boost sales, as Alibaba started promotions 3 weeks before the event with a motto that resembles the sort of greetings, Chinese across the world exchange at the Lunar New Year
  • Customer engagement is key to make success of a shopping day as Alibaba engaged with its customers not only before the event through promotions but also offered its most-loyal customers and viewers a gala that featured international and Chinese stars
  • Mobile is a very important shopping channel for the success of shopping events, as Alibaba said that 90% of their sales were made on mobile and over 70% of orders on Lazada were placed from mobile devices

What’s in it for Indian retailers?
The above mentioned learnings are definitely worth analyzing and applying in the Indian retail market, especially during festival shopping events and one day this will help the shopping event(s) in India eclipse the likes of Black Friday and Singles’ Day and grab international headlines. Another thought to ponder is, should Indian retailers look at Singles’ Day as an opportunity and a reason to boost their sales?

Southeast Asian consumers’ reviews about e-Commerce: Infographic

E-commerce and online shopping have transformed the entire shopping experience. Today, consumers can go online and buy almost anything conveniently in just a few clicks, thanks to e-Commerce. Here are a few stats based on Southeast Asian consumer reviews about e-Commerce.

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E-commerce companies need to be aware of customers’ pain-points and take necessary actions to make the shopping experience a pleasant one.

Emerging Retail Trends In Southeast Asia

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The retail markets of Southeast Asia today offer a range of opportunities, depending on investor appetite for risk and maturity. Favourable demographics including a young earning population and the region’s high tourism potential contributes to rapidly growing economies and mature retail markets that in turn lead to the creation of new shopping venues of all shapes and sizes. In the coming years, as the region’s consumers become more affluent and its cities expand, following are the top retail trends in Southeast Asia:

Personalization
Consumers today expect quick and personalized customer service. They expect retailers to deliver a wider range of products, faster, through meaningful and targeted mediums. Omni-channel retail technology allows retailers to know exactly where their inventory is, to whom they can make it available and when it will get there, regardless of which channel is calling for it. This helps retailers to offer the best level of service to their customers.

Integrated back-and front-end systems
Retailers in Southeast Asia will continue to focus on ensuring their back-end supply chain operations are fully optimized and streamlined and are aligned and synchronized with their store/online operations and associated front-end systems. This will help improve product availability and order accuracy, reduce fulfilment costs, and improve service levels.

Fast and flexible fulfilment
Few retailers in Southeast Asia are currently offering next day delivery to customers, two-hour click-and-collect, or ship-from-store services. For this to be possible, retailers need to have a 360 view of their channels and maintain accurate demand planning. Omni-channel retailers with this level of insight into their inventory and customers will seamlessly control product, people and processes to dispatch and fulfil orders quickly and profitably.

Social shopping
The increased use of instant messaging platforms and m-commerce in Southeast Asian countries will see more shoppers embracing social shopping. The next development will involve retailers using social channels to take customer orders. The retailers who succeed in this difficult market will probably be those who see social media as a viable retail platform.

Hyper targeting
Big data analytics in retail has advanced immensely, making it possible to track customer transactions, online conversations and shopping habits in real-time. Through this, brands can understand better how to service their customers and engage them sustainably.

Asian Retail – The E-Commerce Effect

Last year eCommerce sales in Asia grew 36% to $615 billion, making it twice as big as the U.S. online retail market. The most illustrious example of this phenomenal growth would be the eCommerce giant Alibaba breaking records with the largest global IPO and raising $25 billion. eCommerce has redefined retail, independent of physical establishments and creating a profitable platform for global expansion. Increasing internet and smartphone penetration has made eCommerce and m-commerce the prime medium to reach consumers in both developing and developed markets. The exploration and expansion of e-commerce in retail has brought powerful technical, logistical, commercial, strategic, behavioral and social dynamism in the market. The popularity of eCommerce is due to many factors, the most basic being easy access to global products, more competitive prices and marketing information with the enjoyment of instant gratification while consuming digital products and services e.g. music, travel tickets, e-books, etc. When these factors are combined with the convenience of avoiding queues and shopping in the comfort of homes and offices, cash-on-delivery at doorstep through personalized service, discounts possible through direct channels, incentivized promotions, and so on, eCommerce becomes not just an off-shoot of retail but the main driver of the industry in Asia, and across the world.

Nike’s brand president Trevor Edwards recently commented on Nike’s mobile traffic exceeding desktop for the first time – “eCommerce has been a winner both from a growth and a profitability standpoint. We are going to continue to invest in digital. We believe that’s where the consumer is and is going. And that’s where our brand is and is going. So we’re going to continue to invest there. But from an economic standpoint, it’s been a very positive driver for business both at top line and bottom line.” He believes this is a signal that the company’s long-term efforts to cash in on cross-channel promotions are starting to take effect.

Following are some pivotal eCommerce trends in Asian retail:

China will exceed $1 trillion in retail eCommerce sales by 2018, accounting for more than 40% of the total worldwide. China’s eCommerce market is forecasted to be larger than those of the U.S., Britain, Japan, Germany and France combined. The future development of China’s eCommerce channel is closely linked to technology developments and also the behavior of Chinese consumers, including the way they research and order products online, and their preference for speed and convenience.

The number of internet users in India soared from approximately 20 million in 2004 to nearly 250 million in 2014. An analysis of the demographic profile of internet users further testifies that eCommerce will rise rapidly in India in the coming years. Around 75% of Indian internet users are in the age group of 15 to 34 years. This category shops more than the remaining population. With a new pro-business government, the eCommerce sector is maturing and a number of serious national and international players are entering the market.

The highest B2C eCommerce growth rate in South East Asia is seen in Indonesia. The fourth most populous country in the world, Indonesia has a relatively low penetration of internet users, evaluated below 30% in 2013. However, by 2016 the number of internet users is projected to top 100 million, with online shopper penetration also increasing. Shopping via smartphones is also on the rise, with some merchants reporting as much as one third of total online sales coming through m-commerce.

Despite its relatively small population, Singapore ranks high in eCommerce indexes due to its developed infrastructure. The highest internet penetration in the region, the world’s highest ranking in ease of conducting business and one of the top 3 best logistics infrastructures in the world with a high-performing payments system make Singapore an attractive market for online retailers.

Vietnam makes for a fertile eCommerce market and as close to 87 million aspiring consumers are taking advantage of increased broadband availability and steadily growing incomes. Its eCommerce industry was valued at $300 million in 2011, but global reports estimate that it has grown and will continue to mature at a rate of 75 percent each year until 2015.

South Korea is the third-largest retail eCommerce market in Asia-Pacific, after China and Japan, and the seventh-largest retail eCommerce market worldwide. Retail eCommerce sales in South Korea are expected to reach $36.76 billion in 2015.

Japan is a strong and mature eCommerce market, with a high proportion of urban population and significant internet penetration rate at almost 80%. 75% of the population have purchased products online, and 89% of this group have done so from a mobile device.