Tech Bytes from Retail & Tech No 21

The latest tech news to inform and inspire


  • A record 11.11. Alibaba Group’s 11.11 shopping festival generated a record Rmb498.2bn ($74.10bn) in GMV, almost double the figure from last year’s event. This year’s festival was expanded and ran from November 1 to 11. Alibaba Group president Michael Evans said the results show how quickly and how well the Chinese economy has recovered from COVID-19. He stressed: “A China strategy and digital strategy will be critical to survival and success in the future.” Evans added that key growth drivers of the festival were Alibaba’s 800 million-plus consumer base and changing shopping habits as a result of COVID-19, whereby consumers now buy more diverse categories of product online, from food to cars. 

    This year, 250,000 brands participated in 11.11, of which 31,000 were foreign and 2,600 took part for the first time. US businesses were the single biggest contributor to the festival, generating $5bn in GMV. More than 470 brands surpassed $14.9m in GMV, including Estée Lauder, L’Oréal and Lancôme (L’Oréal). Livestreaming played an integral role in the event, with 28 livestreaming channels on Taobao Live, each surpassing Rmb100m ($15.1m) in GMV.


  • Sephora does Singles’ Day. Beauty retailer Sephora (LVMH) held a handful of Singles’ Day discount events across its European websites. Inspired by the Singles’ Day shopping festival in China (11.11), Sephora Germany and Spain’s sites promoted a #wearesingle campaign, which included discounts of up to 25% on certain brands and products across make-up, skincare, haircare and fragrance from November 7 to 15. Sephora France also held Singles’ Day deals and promoted discounts and its order online, pick-up in-store service via its Instagram account. Sephora Spain held a Singles’ Day livestream event on November 11 called Gala Singles Day by Sephora on Sephora TV’s YouTube channel. The event had about 12,600 views as of November 12. It was hosted by Spanish actress Ana Milán and featured guests like Spanish actress Vanessa Romero, who promoted fragrances and make-up challenges and held discussions with beauty influencers. Sephora encouraged viewers to upload photos on social media during the event with the #wearesingle hashtag, tagging Sephora Spain, in a chance to win a gift card.


  • Verishop on social shopping. Online retail start-up Verishop has launched what it calls a social-commerce platform to combine product discovery on social media with online shopping in one place – a product it claims is missing in the market. Brands and users can upload their own content to the platform, tag products, create and share curated collection boards and follow people and brands. Other additions include AI-powered personalized “For You” and “Following” feeds, in addition to product tagging to allow users to share the products in their posts. 

    Verishop launched in 2019 and focused on selling direct-to-consumer and independent brands, including 249 beauty brands. Some 66% of its users are under 35 and use social media and online tools to find lifestyle ideas and share their style.


  • Instagram bets on Reels. Instagram has redesigned its home page in a bid to put its short-video platform Reels and its Shop service front-and-center. The two features now have their own dedicated tabs on the app—a coveted spot that will provide heightened visibility and increased access. Reels launched in August and is seen as Facebook’s answer to TikTok. However, the reaction to Reels has been lukewarm, with much of Reels’ content constituting reposted TikTok videos.


  • L’Oréal Paris’ virtual make-up. L’Oréal Paris has launched its first line of virtual make-up aimed at users of video calls. Called Signature Faces, the initiative allows users to digitally wear the make-up to virtual social and work events hosted on platforms like Google Hangouts, Houseparty, and Zoom. The virtual make-up range includes three themes and 10 products.