How Alibaba Is Creating The Future Of Commerce On 11/11

Alibaba (BABA) is counting down to its annual shopping bonanza: the Singles Day shopping festival on November 11. Since it was launched seven years ago, it has become the largest shopping day on the planet. Last year, it generated sales of $14 billion, more than double the total online sales from Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Monday combined in the U.S.

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During the 2015 Tmall 11:11 Global Shopping Festival gala in Beijing on November 11, 2015. (Photo credit: STR/AFP/Getty Images)

This year’s Singles Day will be like no other. Alibaba wants to make it a global phenomenon. It has already kicked-off a series of warming up events including an eight-hour live-streamed “see now buy now” fashion show from Shanghai, where consumers can order anything they see on the catwalk in real time.

But what’s really exciting about the Singles Day is its potential to change the way people shop. Here is a sneak peek at what will happen.

Virtual Reality Shopping

Virtual reality shopping is no longer science fiction. Alibaba will showcase its Buy+ virtual shopping experience for the first time at the festival.

For about 15 cents, consumers can purchase a cardboard VR headset. They can slip their smartphone into the headset and browse products from handbags to shoes to lingerie, and even have virtual models showcase the apparel and accessories on a catwalk.

In a video released by Alibaba, a Chinese shopper put on a VR headset, and the next thing he knew he was in Times Square in New York City. He then took a yellow cab to Macy’s department store, and was greeted by sales personnel on the floor. From there, he strolled around the store and bought a handbag for his girlfriend. Buy+ is integrated with Alipay. With a nod, he made a payment without the need to remove the headset to check out.

For retailers who do not have a brick-and-mortar presence in China, such as Macy’s, this could be a game changer, and a dream come true.

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