E-commerce platforms face challenges in making China's sales extravaganza an international event
November 11, or dubbed as "Double 11," China's largest shopping festival, is just two weeks away, and both Chinese and foreign merchants on Chinese e-commerce platforms such as JD.com and Alibaba are now busy preparing for it. For them, however, it is not only a shopping event, but also an opportunity to expand the Chinese e-commerce ecosystem to the overseas market. While global awareness of the Double 11 festival has been rising in recent years, merchants face challenges in serving more people around the world.
As this year's Double 11 online sales spectacle approaches, Chinese retailers are not the only ones getting everything ready.
Considered by some as the world's biggest shopping festival, Bangkok-based Thai products supplier Chalerm Thai International (CTHAI) started to gear up for the event a month ahead in mid-October, an employee from the company told the Global Times.
"This is our third year [participating in] Double 11…and we are expecting to make at least 20 million Baht [1,866] this year, with thousands of packages to be delivered as a result of the event," the employee said, who preferred not to be named.
The Double 11 shopping event, or November 11 Singles' Day, was declared by Alibaba Group Holding in 2009 to help merchants on its business-to-customer (B2C) marketplace Tmall promote their sales.
CTHAI sells various niche Thai products such as edible bird's nests and Durio zibethinus on different online channels such as Tmall Global, JD.com, vip.com and many others.
In preparation of the big day, the company has been overseeing sales promotions since October 19.
For example, it has been offering cheaper prices for presale items whereby customers can scan a QR code to retrieve coupons.
According to the employee, any promotion to build up traffic throughout the year is in preparation of Double 11.
"I believe the revenues generated have been growing steadily," he said, noting that Chinese e-commerce giants Alibaba and JD.com have stretched the company's investments in Thailand in recent years, introducing the conglomerates to the local people of Thailand and boosting global presence.
Alibaba has ambitions to make Double 11 more than a shopping event just for Chinese consumers, but for consumers worldwide, too.
"This year's event is no longer a price war, and it's not only about one single e-commerce company, it's about the presence of [China's] online retail ecosystem on the global stage," Liu Dingding, a Beijing-based independent industry analyst, told the Global Times.
When Alibaba launched this year's festival on October 19, it was soon forecast by the retail giant that over 140,000 brands will participate this time around, offering promotions for over 15 million product listings.
"This year's shopping event will also become a combat training ground for enterprises around the world," Zhang Yong, CEO of Alibaba, was quoted as saying in a statement sent to the Global Times.
The comment reflects the Chinese e-commerce giant's global strategy of serving customers beyond China, with the shopping festival already making footprints in more than 200 countries and regions last year, Liu noted.
While brick-and-mortar stores such as Macy's and Costco prepare for this year's event, Tmall will, for the first time, bring over 100 brands into overseas markets, targeting more than 100 million consumers around the world.