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Taobao targets Singapore shoppers in marketing efforts for Singles’ Day

SINGAPORE — After smashing its record last year by raking in more than S$30 billion in sales within 24 hours during the annual Nov 11 Singles’ Day shopping event, Chinese e-commerce giant Taobao is looking to draw even more shoppers this year, with daily “hongbao” giveaways worth S$2 billion.

Taobao targets Singapore shoppers in marketing efforts for Singles’ Day

An interactive fashion showcase at Alibaba Group’s new visitor centre in AXA Tower at Shenton Way.

SINGAPORE — After smashing its record last year by raking in more than S$30 billion in sales within 24 hours during the annual Nov 11 Singles’ Day shopping event, Chinese e-commerce giant Taobao is looking to draw even more shoppers this year, with daily “hongbao” giveaways worth S$2 billion.

The “hongbao” is an e-voucher of up to 150 yuan (S$30) and will be released between 10am and 4pm daily, starting Thursday (Nov 1).

It may be used to offset purchases on Nov 11 — also referred to as 11.11 — an online mega sales event that is one of the biggest days in China’s retail calendar.

Announcing this on Thursday at Alibaba Group’s new visitor centre in AXA Tower at Shenton Way, the e-commerce business unit of Chinese giant Alibaba noted that this is the first year Singapore is supported by a dedicated operations team to drum up interest among shoppers here through localised marketing campaigns.

The island state is considered Taobao’s “priority market”, it said, being one of six territories outside mainland China with the highest concentration of shoppers using the platform. The others are Australia, Hong Kong, Malaysia, New Zealand and Taiwan.

Closer to Nov 11 when “flash deals” are anticipated, Taobao will be releasing other vouchers that may be stacked with the e-hongbao.

They include vouchers offering 50 per cent off buys for TMall — a Taobao offshoot selling branded products — as well as limited promotional codes that take 555 yuan off purchases, which will be published at five two-hourly time slots on Nov 11 between 10am and 6pm.

New users of Taobao will also get a 20-yuan voucher in the lead-up to the day.

When it first opened its South-east Asia headquarters here in 2013, Taobao had more than 280,000 registered users in Singapore, compared to more than 210,000 in Malaysia.

Asked for an update on the numbers, a Taobao spokesperson told TODAY that it is not in the company’s policy to disclose such data, only that 100 million overseas Chinese are its target market.

To get more people living outside of China to shop on Singles’ Day, Taobao is running a referral programme from Thursday to Nov 11.

Those who already shop on Taobao will be able to get more vouchers and stand a chance to win prizes worth up to 100,000 yuan if they get their friends to download and buy things on its Taobao Lite mobile application, a platform built specifically for Singapore shoppers. The firm did not specify exactly how much shoppers will get for each referral.

Singles’ Day gained popularity after Alibaba started with just 27 merchants for the event in 2009. Now, online marketplaces worldwide are known to host flash deals on the day.

Taobao’s sales on 11.11 had consistently been higher than those on Black Friday and Cyber Monday in the United States combined, and continues to grow rapidly.

Last year’s sales across nearly 140,000 participating brands and merchants eclipsed 2016’s by close to 40 per cent, with a total of 1.48 billion transactions made.

That were as many as 256,000 transactions a second.

Its competitor, Shopee, which considers itself the leading e-commerce platform in South-east Asia and Taiwan, is also conducting its own 11.11 event, which features “themed days” across two weeks between Oct 29 and Nov 11.

Its themed days are largely sorted into categories such as products for men (on Nov 6) and beauty items (on Nov 8), where sales of up to 90 per cent are expected.

One of its most popular 11.11 offerings is “Shopee Shake”, when more than S$100,000 worth of coins that can be used for transactions at Shopee may be won.

Singapore-headquartered Lazada, which became part of the Alibaba family in 2016 after the Chinese giant acquired its controlling stake, is having its own voucher system and shoppers may collect them starting Thursday. The site also allows shoppers to preview 11.11 prices and start adding items to their online shopping carts.

Ms Lilian Wu, Taobao’s head of marketing in South-east Asia, told TODAY that Taobao is focusing more on the Singapore market because it serves as a hub to South-east Asia.

“With Internet-savvy consumers, the online shopping habits, we think it is a proper market to focus on,” she added, noting a growing demand here for household items such as furniture and large electronic products.

Alibaba’s visitor centre in Singapore is the first the firm has set up outside of China. It is located on the ground floor of AXA Tower and is a corporate meeting and event venue for Alibaba and its partners and stakeholders to better facilitate business here for its units, including AlibabaCloud and Ant Financial.

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Taobao Singles Day voucher shopping

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