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Alibaba’s 2020 11.11 Global Shopping Festival

Four trends set to reshape online shopping

As online shopping merges with entertainment and celebrity culture, retailers with a fun sales process will be the winners according to Maggie Zhou, Managing Director of Alibaba Group (Australia and NZ).

Ms Zhou made this observation during Alibaba’s 11.11 Global Shopping Festival, which has been held on 11th November for the last 12 years. The 2020 event generated RMB498.2 billion (AUD$103.2 billion) in gross merchandise volume, up 26 per cent on last year’s GMV.

Four key trends identified by Ms Zhou are:


This new buzz word describes an intersection of shopping and entertainment that provides customers with a differentiated buying experiences by making shopping fun. This type of marketing is particularly enticing for Gen Z; people loosely born between 1995 and 2010. As the first generation of true digital natives, Gen Z aspires to create lifestyle through their chosen brands and products.

Shopatainment requires retailers to invest in the right talent; celebrities capable of engaging with the audience while explaining key consumer benefits in an entertaining way. 

Fun, entertainment and excitement abounded during this year’s 11.11 Global Shopping Festival. There were gaming, online property viewings, virtual test drives and, for the first time, a virtual livestreaming host.


Livestream sessions host real-time broadcasting of video content presented by social media Key Opinion Leaders (KOLs), who model or test products. Viewers watch a video and then purchase featured products through embedded online links.

The shows have a host and feature celebrities, performances and product promotions. They provide an instant, interactive way to get new product recommendations rather than old-style merchandising. 

Livestreaming does not just feature celebrities. The shows can also include Key Opinion Consumers (KOCs), everyday consumers, whose value is based on their relatability and trustworthy nature, and professionals such as doctors, who can establish creditability for the product.

Livestreaming has become an indispensable marketing tool during COVID-19, and there were over 30 livestreaming channels featured on Taobao Live that each generated RMB 100 million (AUD$20.7 million) in GMV during this year’s 11.11 Global Shopping Festival.

More and more Australian companies are using Livestreaming to engage with customers.  

As a part of the 2020 11.11 Global Shopping Festival, vitamin, supplement, and skincare company, Swisse ran a consecutive livestreaming program every day from 21st October. The shows featured inhouse consumer education teams who explained the benefits of the products to consumers. Swisse also launched a new product during the festival using livestreaming and a Chinese KOL.

Louie Coorey is General Manager of Brauer Natural Medicine, a 90-year-old Adelaide company. Louise says that during this year’s 11.11 Global Shopping Festival Brauer had an increased focus on KOL engagement, doctor engagement and livestreaming, all built around the skews that are important to the Chinese community.

Social commerce

In China, e-commerce is no longer about products on a screen; it is social. KOLs share their videos with their social media followers, and these have links back to stores. 

The success of a social commerce campaign is measured by the degree to which consumers interact with the company’s marketing through retweets, likes, and shares, and, ultimately, through sales.

The Chinese market will continue to grow

Around the world, the pandemic has seen countless people shop online for the first time. COVID-19 has also forced many companies to accelerate the digitalization of their businesses, and Ms Zhou says the opportunities for Australian retailers in China will only increase. 

Ms Zhou pointed to the following statistics:

  • The OECD reports that the Chinese middle class will grow to 850 million people by 2030.
  • 300 million people are expected to move from rural areas to the cities in the next ten years
  • Mobile penetration currently sits at 90 per cent and continues to increase
  • Eighty per cent of Chinese retail is still offline

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Clare Loewenthal

Clare Loewenthal

Clare is an author, business commentator and passionate contributor to Dynamic Business. She was the Founder and Publisher of Dynamic Small Business magazine, which became Australia’s largest small business publication.

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