China's eTailers drum up attention for Singles' Day using VR and live streaming


Nov 3, 2016

02 Nov 2016

Beijing, November 03,2016 -The Singles’ Day sale in China often sees a strong competition between Alibaba, and Suning, which are the largest eTailers in China. Last year, Alibaba was the biggest winner as its total transactions during the Singles’ Day period hit US$14.3 billion.

1.eTailer dynamics

Alibaba and Suning have formed a joint venture known as “Mao Ning” in October. This firm will be used to manage the supply chain for Tmall and Suning. Alibaba’s strength is the wide reach that its online platform (Tmall) has, while Suning’s strength is in its wide coverage of offline retail shops and management of supply chain/logistics. During the Singles’ Day shopping season, Suning will focus more on handling the supply chain logistics, while Alibaba will focus more on marketing online to reach out to a wider base of consumers. Prior to this, Suning already has an online store on Tmall’s site and this will further help to strengthen the working relationship between these two companies. With these two companies joining forces, they will be able to leverage each other’s strengths to compete more aggressively with

To strengthen its offline retail channels and better position itself as an international brand, acquired eTailer Yihaodian from Walmart earlier this year. It will be able to widen its source of imported products using Walmart’s supply chain and strengthen its positioning for groceries when compared to Tmall during the Singles’ Day sale. Starting from October, Walmart’s flagship store can also be found on

eTailers are also seen trying to target certain vendors to build a better relationship with them. For example, Xiaomi and Canon work more closely with Tmall, and are able to get better advertisement slots on its website. On the other hand, Lenovo, HP and Epson have a closer relationship with, and use flash sales and discounts to drive up their sales.

2.Use of VR

Alibaba introduced a virtual reality (VR) shopping program known as “buy+” this year, and a basic user with a cardboard viewer can be virtually transported and enter various retail shops overseas in the US, Japan or Europe to have a 360-degree view of the shops there. The user can easily focus on an item in the shop, have a 3D view of it, and the price and a short description of the item will pop up. The user will also be able to easily purchase the item in virtual reality, which is a rather interesting way of providing consumers with a new shopping experience.

3. Longer sales period

The duration of the Singles’ Day sale is longer this year, and eTailers are coming up with various ways to keep the momentum up over the entire period. From October 21 to 31, eTailers started having “warm-up” promotions for various products. For instance, Tmall focused on selling technology products between October 24 to 26, with limited quantities of products sold at certain times of the day at a very low price. It also provided discounts and rebates during this period. From November 1 to 10, there will be a vendor and brand day as well as a product category day. They will also use cash and vouchers to attract consumers to purchase more items. Along with the live streaming shows with celebrities on the night of November 10, eTailers will drum up excitement for the Singles’ Day sale with a climax, hoping to get more consumers to purchase products on that day.

4. Entertainment factor played up

On top of holding its usual night carnival on Singles’ Day, Alibaba will also invite celebrities, Olympic champions, as well as well-known people in the industry to join its livestreaming event this year, hoping to generate more sales by engaging more fans. will also be using similar livestreaming strategies.

“With the competition getting heated up, eTailers are seen using different methods to try to outwit one another and differentiate themselves from each other. Alibaba’s use of livestreaming and VR clearly stands out this year. Although consumers may still prefer to purchase directly from their mobile app given that it is more convenient, VR shopping will definitely pick up in the coming years once the technology matures and consumers are provided with a better user experience that comes with clearer and sharper images,” says Xiaohan Tay , Senior Market Analyst, Client Devices Research, IDC Asia/Pacific.

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