While Alibaba Group’s annual 11.11 Global Shopping Festival gets all the attention, its 2021 6.18 Mid-Year Shopping Festival can’t be overlooked as an enormous shopping event in its own right. The festival, which started its pre-sales period on May 24 and will run through June 20, has 250,000 brands participating, more than double the number compared to last year.
This year, 8,200 new brands are using 6.18 to make their debut on Alibaba’s cross-border B2C marketplace Tmall.
According to Tmall, this year’s 6.18 is expected to bring 1.4 million newly launched products to consumers in China. For example, sustainable footwear and accessories brand Rothy’s is introducing its new men’s line on Tmall to coincide with its U.S. launch.
“We can see huge traffic coming to the Tmall platform during the campaign period. It’s a great opportunity for Rothy’s to celebrate the festival with our customers, and we hope to attract more sustainable-fashion lovers, both men and women, during 6.18 to convert them into buyers and customers,” said Michelle Tang, general manager of Rothy’s China.
Tmall Global is also curating a campaign featuring four New York-based designer brands—Rebecca Minkoff, women’s lifestyle accessories brand Botkier, fine jewelry brand Nadri and modern handbags seller Welden—which launches select products on the platform this 6.18.
“As international travel continues to be restricted, we are using 6.18 as a way to bring the essence of New York to Chinese consumers,” said Emma Lee, the head of fashion for cross-border online marketplace Tmall Global. “New York is a fashion capital of the world. For Chinese consumers, especially Gen Z, these New York brands represent a feeling of being fearless and unapologetic. For these brands, 6.18 is great timing to really understand what the China market can mean for them in the long term.”
For 6.18, Tmall has rolled out Tmall Lists, which are curated shopping guides for consumers looking for shopping inspiration. The product rankings are calculated based on a range of criteria, which may include popularity among consumers, value for money and expert reviews.
Tmall has launched more than 100 U.S. brands on its marketplace since the beginning of 2021, including luxury brands such as Hermès, Gucci, La Prairie and Dior.
Alibaba expands livestreaming in time for 6.18
Starting June 1, the 6.18 Mid-Year Shopping Festival has seen a majority of merchants and brands using Alibaba Cloud’s livestreaming capabilities, the e-commerce giant said. Sales generated from Taobao Live in just the opening hour of the event surpassed that of the entire first day in 2020.
And on Tmall, Diane von Furstenberg conducted a special 6.18 broadcast from her flagship store in NYC to the brand’s more than 320,000 fans to showcase its latest spring and summer collections.
“Livestreaming is now an essential tool for DVF to tell our brand story and build our brand loyalty. We plan to conduct more livestreams from our NYC flagship in the future and bring the latest fashion and styles to our customers in China,” said Gabby Hirata, the president of DVF, in a statement.
The event comes as Alibaba Group recently expanded its array of cloud computing products, pushing even further into the rapidly expanding world of livestreaming with the launch of a new cloud-based product designed for online shopping.
The platform will allow e-commerce players to design and launch their own livestream shopping experiences for their websites or apps, which will be hosted on Alibaba’s cloud.
The new solution leverages the tech giant’s large-scale and distributed real-time video processing technology in an effort to ensure an uninterrupted signal transfer between sellers, buyers and the nearest distribution center.
Within the Alibaba Cloud ecosystem, the solution is built to provide a rich range of features with minimal latency for virtual sales sessions, including livestream replays, product video showcases embedded into livestreaming windows and real-time subtitle translation for cross-border livestreams, among others. Alibaba says the solution also supports end-to-end and device-to-cloud livestreaming, making it easier for smaller merchants to launch their own sales sessions.
U.S. retailers make their pitch
Five months ahead of the 11.11 Global Shopping Festival, Alibaba Group is bringing back its Go Global 11.11 Pitch Fest, an initiative created to help U.S.-based brands grow their businesses globally through cross-border trade.
The “Shark Tank”-like program, offered by Tmall Global, is designed to help fast-track American small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) onto the platform in time to participate in Alibaba’s 11.11 Global Shopping Festival, the world’s largest shopping event which generated $74.1 billion in gross merchandise volume last year.
Alibaba announced the return of the program two months earlier than it did in 2020, when the e-commerce giant launched the opportunity for the first time. Applications will be accepted from June 8-Aug. 6, and Tmall Global will contact selected brands by Aug. 13.
Brands participating in Pitch Fest will get the chance to work with the Tmall Global U.S. business development team for global market opportunity evaluation and consultation.
Selected brands will be fast-tracked and launched on Tmall Global through its Overseas Fulfillment program, which enables brands to place their products in a U.S. warehouse to prep sales on the marketplace. The Overseas Fulfillment program operates as a consignment model that fulfills orders for Chinese consumers directly from one of the warehouses available in either Los Angeles or New York starting in October.
The Overseas Fulfillment is pivotal to making the Pitch Fest program work, in that it gives the upstart U.S. brands direct access to Chinese consumers without a local presence in China, and provides a lower market entry cost to test and optimize their product assortment. Brands pay weekly or monthly wholesale settlement costs, with minimal extra operational and sales costs, and can return or exchange their inventory in their home country.
From there, the Tmall Global team provides brands with marketing advice and tools to help boost brand awareness in China, enabling them to participate in promotional campaigns such as a dedicated livestreaming session ahead of the 11.11 event. Analytics generated from the platform, such as sales performance and consumer insights, can help brands make more informed decisions about their China strategy.
“Given the huge shift toward online shopping and the growing demand in China for American products, U.S. brands seeking international growth must have both a digital strategy and a China strategy,” said Tony Shan, head of Tmall Global for the Americas, Alibaba Group. “Pitch Fest is a great opportunity for us to discover and support U.S. brands we believe can find success in the China market.”
The Go Global 11.11 Pitch Fest accepts applications from e-commerce-ready SMBs that offer products across all major consumer categories, including apparel and accessories; beauty and personal care; consumer electronics; home goods; food and beverage; health and wellness; baby, kids and maternity; and pets.