Chinese Shopping Carnival is a Test in Both Decision-Making and MATHEMATICS

2017-10-26 15:30:09 Hayley Liu

There are still two weeks to go until Alibaba's Global Shopping Festival known as "Double Eleven" creates an online shopping epidemic, but the e-retailer launched its pre-sales promotions as early as October 20th. Yet, some customers have complained on social platforms that the pre-sales scheme is too complex to understand.

Double Eleven was created by Alibaba in 2009 and originally promoted as a day for singles to indulge themselves in the joys of shopping. Held annually on November 11th, the festival has become the world's largest online shopping event.

Alibaba's ambitious move this year comes at a time when its year-on-year sales growth of the shopping spree has slowed. Last year, sales on Alibaba's platforms during Double Eleven registered a record high of 120.7 billion yuan (13.7 billion pounds). Although that was still a 32% rise compared with 2015, the growth was much lower than the increase a year before.

To make this year's Double Eleven sales break new records, Alibaba is hoping Europeans will join in on the shopping carnival. Its logistics service Cainiao has signed agreements with several airlines to book chartered planes for overseas delivery during the shopping bonanza. Thus, European shoppers can expect the products purchased on Tmall, one of Alibaba's online marketplaces, to arrive at their doorstep in just 10 days.

To create a buzz ahead of the festival, Tmall announced its pre-sell scheme last Thursday. The campaign includes more than 3 weeks of interactive marketing promotions, new product offerings from all around the world and support services.

Screenshot of Alibaba's pre-sales promotions.

Numerous activities have been arranged from October 20th to November 11th.

Unfortunately arranging too many promotions does little to improve buyer satisfaction, as many people have complained that it is confusing trying to understand various rules surrounding deposits, money-off, coupons, just to name a few. Apart from discounts given by Alibaba, each seller can also make their own promotional policies, making the purchases even more complex.

Here is an example of what a challenging task it is figuring out how much money you need to pay by the end. A pack of shampoo and hair conditioner is priced at 124 yuan. But the promotional policy states that if you pay 15 yuan beforehand as a deposit, it will be the equivalent of paying 45 yuan on November 11th, meaning that 79 yuan is to be paid on the day. In this case, the actual price for early buyers is 15 yuan + 79 yuan = 94 yuan. See? That's a tricky math problem.

Though Shanghai students often outperform other rivals in PISA tests, few Chinese like to solve math problems before placing every order. "Those poor at math don't deserve Double Eleven this year," one Weibo user said, another added, "Clearly I'm poor at reading because I have difficulties understanding their promotional policy."

"I've been counting numbers and making deals since 7 a.m., it's like having a math lesson. Does it have to be this hard to buy things on November 11th?"

"People who are not good at reading and math should say goodbye to this year's Double Eleven pre-sales promotions. I spent a lot of time on it, but still couldn't figure out how much it cost and what I would get as gift."

"I could save lots of money this year, because I don't understand Alibaba's pre-sales rules at all."

Alibaba, JD, Gome and other e-commerce platforms also jumped in the shopping spree. Alibaba deserves credit for promoting this as a holiday starting in 2009 with only 27 merchants, but everyone has joined the party, albeit on a smaller scale.



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