E-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding Co's ambitious plan to spur online shopping via Singles Day will help boost consumer spending in the country, experts said.
Alibaba Group Holding Ltd is roping in 250,000 brands to offer perks and discounts on some 14 million products for its upcoming Nov 11 Shopping Festival, an event it expects will drive the largest consumption splurge in China since the COVID-19 outbreak.
By spending some 2 billion yuan ($299 billion) worth of digital coupons through virtual gameplays, the e-commerce giant is looking to attract at least 800 million users to place orders during the extravaganza, according to Jiang Fan, president of Taobao and Tmall, the online marketplaces owned by Alibaba.
"This year's Tmall Nov 11 event is the biggest certainty in the midst of uncertainties, and we are leading global consumption growth," he said during a news conference in Shanghai. "We are more committed than ever to empower businesses to capture opportunities and growth through new ideas and initiatives this year which is full of challenges."
Entering its 12th year, this year's edition has for the first time added a new sales window from Nov 1 to Nov 3 on top of the traditional 24-hour sales period that falls on Nov 11.
Alibaba said the prolonged promotional period is designed to provide merchants, specifically new brands and small businesses, the opportunity to showcase their products and tell their brand stories amid the pandemic.
And this can be achieved by hosting livestreaming sessions, a popular way of remotely engaging buyers expedited by the social distancing policy. Alibaba is expecting some 400 company executives and 300 internet celebrities to endorse a variety of offerings, including even eye-catching bigger items from automobiles to apartments.
"There is much to anticipate from the continued bouncing back of consumption, as it staged a recovery in the third quarter by driving 1.7 percentage points of economic growth," said Hu Qimu, a senior researcher at the China Digital Economy Institute. "So this year's Nov 11 event clearly carries more weight than merely being a commercial event. It is critical to lifting consumption and hence further boosting the economy."
As the pandemic temporarily constrains outbound travel, Tmall Global will bring more than 2,600 new overseas brands to Chinese consumers for the first time. Alibaba's cross-border e-commerce platform Kaola will also debut during the festival, featuring products from 89 countries and regions.
At home, the fair is also bringing together some 2 million local brick-and-mortar merchants, including grocery stands, community supermarkets and breakfast stalls that are not conventionally connected through digital means. Mobile wallet Alipay will double as an information hub and a payment method.
"Digital economy has largely helped China weather the COVID crisis. The Nov 11 event is not only an occasion to review the dividend of the digital economy thus far, but also a catalyst fueling the longer-term growth of the economy," said Fu Weigang, a researcher at the Shanghai Institute of Finance and Law.
Alibaba's rival JD announced earlier it will offer 50 percent discounts on more than 200 million commodities, launch more than 300 million new products and give subsidies and consumption coupons worth more than 20 billion yuan for this year's carnival.
Similar to Alibaba, JD is also looking to penetrate into lower-tier markets, adopt livestreaming to enhance consumer loyalty, introduce over 500,000 imported goods, and provide customer-to-manufacturer products.
Fan Feifei in Beijing contributed to this story.