Singles’ Day Sales to Surge as VR Creates Global Shopping Event, Says Fung Global Retail & Technology

Chinese online shopping event is expanding to include international retailers, and embracing omni-channel distribution, writes Managing Director Deborah Weinswig

HONG KONG – Even as most of the Americas and Western Europe are already deep into the holiday sales season, another shopping event is taking place today that could have major ramifications for global retail. This year, China’s Singles’ Day is offering Buy+, the world’s first-ever end-to-end virtual reality (VR) shopping experience, which will help turn the event into a truly global shopping festival, say recent reports from international think tank Fung Global Retail & Technology. The event should result in sales of US$20 billion, up an extraordinary 40 percent over last year’s total.

Created in the 1990s by students at Nanjing University as a way for men to celebrate bachelorhood, Singles’ Day was subsequently rebranded by e-commerce giant Alibaba in 2009. Since then, it has become a worldwide shopping festival, with ramifications that extend well beyond China, writes Fung Global Retail & Technology Managing Director Deborah Weinswig, who spoke at a panel at the Alibaba Singles’ Day Global Shopping Festival in Shenzhen, China, yesterday.

“Buy+ will enable global retailers (even those without a physical presence in China) to offer an engaging, virtual in-store experience to Chinese consumers,” Weinswig writes in “Singles’ Day Online Shopping Festival Could Also Benefit Retailers’ Physical Stores.”

The platform features eight virtual stores: Macy’s, Target, Costco, P&G, Chemist Warehouse, Freedom Foods, Tokyo Otaku Mode and Matsumoto Kiyoshi. Using cardboard VR headsets distributed in October, consumers can virtually walk around Macy’s Herald Square flagship in New York City to find products and, with just a nod of the head, confirm payment to purchase an item they see.

“One of Alibaba’s strategies for Singles’ Day is to merge gamification with online shopping. Thecompany will leverage its media and entertainment assets to drive increased online consumption,” Weinswig writes in “2016 Singles’ Day Preview: Aiming High as Alibaba Pairs Shopping with Entertainment & Social Media.”

These efforts include a televised countdown gala event and fashion show that was held last evening. In addition, the company is promoting products on TV screens, allowing viewers to scan QR codes for a real-time purchase.

The concept has expanded beyond Alibaba, with chief rival, Gome and Suning also creating promotions. International retailers will target Chinese shoppers, and Chinese retailers target international shoppers. In 2015, Newegg, OTTE New York and Nasty Gal, all launched Singles’ Day promotions.

“A year ago, Alibaba promised that Singles’ Day will be a true omni-channel event, and this year the company seems dedicated to continue delivering on the promise, armed with more technological innovations that bridge the gap between the virtual and physical worlds,” Weinswig writes.

The full reports can be found at  www.FungGlobal  Previous reports issued by Fung Global Retail & Technology include US Furniture Market 2016: Preferences and Trends” and  “Deep Dive: The Changing Retail Landscape & the Evolving Opportunity for Better Demand Planning.” Fung Global Retail & Technology’s reports and analyses can be found at and Subscribe here to Deborah Weinswig’s daily news and analysis on retail, fashion and technology.


About Fung Global Retail & Technology
Fung Global Retail & Technology is a think tank whose research team, based in New York, London and Hong Kong, follows emerging retail and tech trends, specializing in the ways retail and technology intersect, and in building collaborative communities.

The team, led by Deborah Weinswig, former top Wall Street and retail tech analyst and startup advisor, publishes ongoing thematic and global market research on topics such as the Internet of Things, digital payments, omni-channel retail, luxury and fashion trends and disruptive technologies.


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