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.
New Year, New Record
Nicole Kidman smiled and I returned the gesture with a flying kiss through the screen, which was live broadcasting the 11.11 gala show, almost mockingly as the actual festival was happening literally next door at the Mercedes-Benz Arena. I, with the rest of the reporters, was at the Shangha Expo Park.
But that’s the marketing model – a star-studded celebration to kick off the spending festival like a drum roll to the clash of cymbals.
While the gala festivities concluded well before 11.11, the rest of us watched the final countdown to the dawn of the global shopping extravaganza, marked by the feline ticker transforming into a stats counter that displayed the increasing sales figures in real-time. Three minutes later, the screen lit up to annouce the first milestone: 10 billion yuan (SS$2.1 billion) was generated.
Aside from apparels, gadgets and lifestyle products, China shoppers, including some 200 countries, were said to swap up agricultural produce such as sea cucumber, lobster and goji berries at a bargain. This information was gleaned from the intelligent logistics screen which shows the consumer demographics in China. From gender and age to the most popular products amongst the region’s locals, Big Brother knows it all. Also a noteable takeaway from this massive 24hour sale was that an estimated 90% of trasactions was made via mobile.
The 24-hour sale concluded with a final figure of 168.3 billion yuan (S$34.6 billion) for 2017, 40 billion more from last year’s figure. At the end of the sale, Alibaba representatives were still giving out prizes.
Alibaba’s 11.11 Global Shopping Festival clearly exemplifies that money sure can buy happiness.