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Alibaba Group puts sustainability and social shopping centre stage as it launches this year’s 11.11 shopping event

Tmall Global Shopping Festival 2021 is launched. Image supplied by Alibaba Group

Alibaba Group has launched its 13th 11.11 Global Shopping Festival – and says the emphasis of this year’s event will be on sustainability and inclusiveness, alongside new approaches to social shopping. 

The annual Singles Day event, first created by Chinese university students to mark the day of single people, has grown quickly as a retail event. Alibaba Group first held its first Singles Day event in 2009, when 27 traders took part and in order to raise awareness of online shopping. This year, some 290,000 brands are taking part, with 14m deals set to be offered to more than 900m Chinese consumers, making it the biggest event yet.

In recent years the event has come to mark the start of peak shopping around the world. UK and international retailers and brands have taken part in order to sell to the huge potential Chinese domestic market, while a growing number of shoppers in the UK also go online to buy on Singles Day.

As in recent years, this year’s event will be broken down into two parts: an earlier sales period from November 1 to 3, and a second on November 11, the main day of the event. But this year the focus will be on sustainable ways of buying – and then recycling packaging, say organisers. 

“Over the last 12 years, 11.11 has showcased the tremendous consumption power of Chinese consumers and pushed boundaries for the global retail sector,” says Chris Tung, chief marketing officer of Alibaba Group. “This year’s Festival marks a new chapter for 11.11. We believe we must leverage the power of 11.11 to encourage sustainable development and promote inclusiveness to consumers, merchants and partners across our ecosystem.” 

Social shopping

The emerging power of social shopping will be showcased at this year’s festival. Taobao Live will host live-streaming from 700 influencers, celebrities and brand  representatives, while also enabling shoppers to share the goods in their shopping cart with friends and families. This, it says, is intended to make the experience a more social one. Shoppers are also encouraged to share the Goods for Good purchases they make in order to donate to their favourite charities.


Tmall, the Alibaba platform where many international brands have a presence, will be offering RMB100m worth of vouchers for ‘green’ purchases, such as energy-efficient and low-impact products. 

Alibaba’s logistics arm Cainiao Network will offer package recycling at 10,000 Cainaio Post Stations in 20 cities from November 1, in order to reduce the carbon footprint of the festival. An Alibaba says it is also using green technology in order to further reduce carbon emissions per order. 


A new ‘senior mode’ is designed to make shopping online easier for older people, with features including voice-assisted technology, simpler navigation and larger font sizes and icons. Donations from this year’s Goods for Good programme will go to isolated older people, left-behind children in rural areas, and low-income workers. 

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