Spotted: Lonely Boy Getting Caught Up In The Shopping Storm Of Alibaba’s Singles Day Sale

Our writer spent his weekend in Shanghai to experience the 24-hour shopping festival in person

A laser show of sorts greeted whoever entered through the doors of the convention hall, bathing unsuspecting individuals in a multitude of colours as they scrambled through the rows of tables for a spot to set up shop. Lively exchanges, shuffling movement, and the incessant typing on electronic gadgets contributed to the theatrics of this massive event. But all eyes were on the sprawling screen that commanded attention with an animated feline ticker, counting down to the launch of Alibaba's 11.11 Global Shopping Festival in real-time.

In several gentle taps, I shared a photo I took off the scene on my smartphone, with the caption: Everyone's set, armed with their devices, to commence the online shopping frenzy once the minute hand strikes for 11.11. 

Someone texted back. Fascinating, but consumerism can be at its best and at its worst.

Always with the dramatics, my mother that is. But her observation isn't necessarily inaccurate with concerns centering around privacy and environmental implications that come with excessive consumption. But that's for another time, another story and another media outlet.

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Grocery shopping at Alibaba’s own supermarkets

An Alibaba foray, the proliferation of Hema (盒马) supermarkets has reinvented the way Chinese nationals get their groceries. Driven technologically, the innovative supermarket houses a wide array of products, all touting a barcode that is scannable with its unique app. Upon scanning, the app reveals more information about the product, before shoppers can make payment at the self-checkout kiosks via (you guessed it!) the app. A distinct display of Hema’s tech prowess is that Chinese nationals can opt to pay with the help of facial technology.

Groceries can also be purchased online and have them delivered in under 30 minutes, even if it is for a single item. The delivery service extends to a 3km radius. From non-perishables to produce, the range also includes fresh seafood that shoppers can opt to buy and then have it cooked for them.

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Launched in 2015, Hema supermarket has now 13 outlets. Products are sold are claimed to be a bargain as there is no middleman involved.

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