This year, Alibaba’s strategies for fueling sales on Singles Day, the biggest shopping event in China, include increasing technology integrations and catering to luxury consumers. Singles Day takes place on Saturday, November 11.
This year, Singles Day shoppers are expected to spend more cautiously due to adverse macroeconomic conditions within China, according to the New York Times. Last year, Alibaba decided not to reveal its Singles Day revenue.
Especially to woo luxury shoppers to its Tmall Luxury Pavilion experience, Alibaba is betting on innovation. Ahead of the holiday, the e-commerce giant implemented tech integrations including livestreaming, AI and gamification from its luxury brand partners like Gucci, Balmain and Ralph Lauren.
In addition, it launched 10 free AI tools. The tools — which support copywriting, customer service and the development of product images — are being offered to merchants on Tmall and Taobao to assist them with marketing and merchandising. Sellers can now select from seven writing styles to create product descriptions or call upon an AI robot to solve simple customer concerns. They can also access tools to generate images of items in different positions and backgrounds. Alibaba also offers merchants a virtual business assistant to help them stay on top of trends, sort through sales data for insights and access suggestions on product titles.
According to Alibaba, Taobao and Tmall’s AI tools were used by merchants more than 1.5 billion times between October 1 and November 6. As for consumer-facing tech, in September, the company also launched a generative AI chatbot named Taobao Wenwen to help with customer queries. So far, it’s been used by 5 million people.
“Chinese consumers are digital-savvy, and Tmall Luxury Pavilion is developing AI tools that are suitable for the luxury industry,” said Janet Wang, head of the Tmall Luxury Pavilion. “[With time], we will be able to make the AI [supporting] Taobao Wenwen smarter and more precise. This enhanced data will also improve our guiding recommendations and brand storytelling based on consumers’ luxury purchasing needs, such as gifting.”
While livestream shopping is still off to a shaky start in the West on platforms like TikTok Shop, it is one of Tmall’s main sales drivers on Singles Day. “In China, it has become a consumer habit to watch and purchase products through Taobao livestreaming,” said Wang. Taobao is Alibaba’s livestreaming-focused shopping platform, while Tmall features luxury-specific livestreams from its partner brands. “About 60 luxury brands will livestream on Tmall during this year’s 11.11, with the total streaming duration [set to] increase compared to last year,” said Wang. This year, Tmall is also promoting personalized 1-on-1 streams for luxury customers.
For brands, livestreaming pays off. According to Tmall, on the evening of October 31, the official start of the promotional 11.11 sale, luxury fashion brand MCM’s livestreaming sales were six times higher than in the same period last year.
“Consumers in China prefer a digital service experience, which promotes transactions,” said Wang. Since 2022, over 20 luxury brands have launched a 1-on-1 livestream service on Tmall Luxury Pavilion. According to Wang, compared to text-based customer service, the conversion rate is approximately 4-5 times higher.
To market the shopping event this year, Ralph Lauren and MCM participated in Tmall’s promotional video, dubbed “Float Parade,” which features AI-generated floats representing both brands.
And there are other ways AI is showing up this year. For example, launched on November 8, Tmall Luxury Pavilion partnered with China’s popular AI photo generator, MiaoYa Camera, to enable MiaoYa Camera users to generate digital avatars of themselves wearing clothing by Tmall brands including Balmain and Weekend Max Mara. Consumers could then jump directly to Tmall to purchase their “worn” items.
“Consumers’ demands are becoming more segmented for things like gifting and also more personalized — there’s more demand for 3D and customization options,” said Wang. “That requires brands to create refined, precise content and service experiences that show they understand consumers.”