Behind the Scenes with Alibaba on Singles’ Day (Tech Strategy – Podcast 5)

This is the fifth episode of my Asia tech class. It is a summary of my time with Alibaba on Singles’ Day. It was one of the first podcasts so the quality is not awesome. But it was a fun day.

You can listen here or at iTunes and Himalaya.

Here are some photos of the day

Companies for this class:

  • Alibaba


I write and speak about digital China and Asia’s latest tech trends.

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—–Transcription belwo

Welcome, welcome everybody. My name is Jeffrey Towson. I teach at Peking University and this is Jeff’s Asia Tech class. Now for this week, I apologize. I’m a little bit late. It was crazy. I was up at Alibaba headquarters, sort of behind the scenes for singles day and then got on a plane to California where I am currently sitting, having woken up at 3 a.m. for the second day in a row, which means I’m completely messed up. So what I thought I’d do today, is talk about sort of what happened behind the scenes at Alibaba, which was really great experience. The Singles Day event is huge and sort of what I learned in my notes and that sort of thing and go from there. But first if this class is helpful to you please subscribe at iTunes under Jeff’s Asia Tech class or on my webpage and you can sign up in either place and there’s weekly podcasts, emails, daily updates, a whole lot of stuff. Now the first stop on our tour was the In Time department store which is in downtown Hangzhou. In Time is interesting. In Time is a very standard department store and I think there are about 60 of them in China and Alibaba bought them a couple years ago. And I remember reading about that and thinking, oh, that was kind of an interesting move. And then, you know, it was part of the new retail idea that we’re going to take physical retailers like supermarkets and convenience stores and digitize them and do various things. And then it, you know, there wasn’t much after that. We never really heard much. We heard a lot about the supermarkets, a lot about convenience store, luxury, fashion, makeup, all of this. the in-time thing never really, you know, it just sort of was bought and then we didn’t hear anything more about it. So I was pretty excited to go there because I wanted to see what they’d been doing under the new retail idea with what do you do with that in a department store? So we go downtown in our little bus going to the department store and it was packed and it’s a pretty standard department store. I mean, there’s nothing really to say that looked different when you walked in. You know, six floors or so. lot of makeup, apparel, you know, it’s your standard department store. And so my first impression was the user experience in the store didn’t appear to be dramatically different like it did in the hummer store, the, you know, the, the supermarkets and we went upstairs and had a sort of, there’s a press conference and the CEO of in time, you know, he, he spoke a bit and gave some basic information and I sort of came away with three takeaways. What really, they really did three things, as far as I can tell. Three big things. And I think they’re powerful. I think they do make a huge difference, but they’re pretty straightforward. Number one, they digitized the operations. Department stores, you have a lot of people on cashiers, you have a lot of staff running around. Your marketing is by billboards. You know, you’re waiting for people to come in the store, you try and grab them when they come in. May I help you, sir? May I help you, ma’am? You know, they digitize that and one of the strengths of Alibaba is they have this huge ecosystem so when you talk about digitizing a store, really what you’re talking about is pushing certain functions from your operation onto other Alibaba platforms. So if they want to do payment, which they digitize the payment process, you know, they just push that to Alipay. When you want to digitize logistics and delivery, well, they just push that to sign out. And when you want to digitize sort of the back office, the computer systems, all that, well, you have AliCloud. So they can push all these. And that’s basically what they did. They got rid of all the servers in the store. And everything is run off the cloud, because they have their own cloud business. They fired about, I guess, 100 cashiers. and they just gave smartphones to all the salespeople who can then process your order and get it paid for right then because it’s all run on the smartphone in Alipay. They did things like that. The first big lever they pulled wasn’t a big change in the consumer experience at all. It was just increased efficiency. Just do things cheaper, do things more productively. by using all your digital tools in the operation as it currently exists. So we’re not changing the business model, we’re not dramatically changing the consumer experience, we’re just doing what we do a lot more cheaply and a lot more efficiently because we’re really good at digital stuff. You know, and if you can remove a hundred employees, that’s a big deal. You get better inventory management, all of that. So that was kind of the first big lever I think they pulled. The second lever, which is more interesting, is they worked on their mobile app. And the idea that we’re going to try and run everything through an app. They had an app before, I guess, but I think it wasn’t terribly great. And they worked on that. And now it’s like one of the top five or 10 apps in China is this department store app. Because obviously they’re great at apps. And that does a couple of powerful things. The first one and probably the most powerful. is it builds a relationship with the customer. It digitizes the customer and builds a relationship because most department stores have no idea who’s walking in their store. They don’t know what they’re doing. They don’t know them personally when they walk in unless they come to the counter and buy something. The customer records are probably minimal. As soon as you shift the relationship from in-person, I hope someone comes into my store today, to a mobile app, you know everything about them. They’re in your system. You can communicate with them all the time, not just when they come into the store, all the time. You can send the messages, you know a lot, and the communication is now two-way. So that sort of digitization of the consumer relationship and building that direct relationship by moving it out of the physical world to primarily on the phone, very, very powerful. You can push promotions, you can advertise, you know where they are, and you start to find people that are nearby. One of the biggest problems department stores have is matching. You know, they don’t know anything about you. You come into the store, what can I help you with, right? That’s the first question asked, what can I help you with? Because they don’t know anything about you. They don’t know what you’re looking for. They don’t know what you might like. On the phone, if you’ve got good data and that relationship, you can do that matching. They can send you stuff. They know what you’re looking for. So that’s pretty powerful is moving that. And then what you start to do is you start to move the sales into the app and away from the store. And suddenly, you’re no longer limited to selling things to people in the store. You can sell to them all the time and you can say, buy it on your phone, come in and pick it up. Which is exactly what we saw with the Hamas supermarkets that 60, 70 percent of their orders are coming from people who aren’t in the store. That’s pretty powerful. So that was number two. They shifted to the mobile app. And number three, they launched on-demand delivery, which is in a two to three kilometer radius around the store. You can basically order stuff in the store and have it delivered, or you can sit in your home, at your apartment, whatever, pull up the app. If you see a sweater that you like, you buy the sweater and within, I think their delivery time is an hour. I thought it was 20 minutes, but I think it’s like an hour to two hours. They will deliver it to you. And if you like it, you keep it. And if you don’t… they take it back. So what that effectively does is it expands the radius of the store. It’s selling area from the physical store itself to a two to three kilometer radius around the store. I mean you can pretty much sell to anyone in that region anytime a day just like they’re in the store. So that’s a pretty big lever. So those were kind of my big three. There’s another one they talk about how we’re going to pair location-based services with the physical store. That was their phrase. Physical store plus location-based services. I wasn’t really sure what those were. I keep hearing this phrase that that’s going to be important. I don’t just mean delivery. That’s a service. But like ordering food, making a restaurant reservation, buying movie tickets. I mean, it’s almost like the stuff Maytwan does. I keep hearing about this, but… I haven’t really seen it much in practice. It seems to be overwhelmingly still about products, which you can buy at home or come into the store, and then having fun, the experience. I mean, people go to the shop because they like to go down to the store and shop. So I still think it’s mostly those two things, and then this idea of we’re going to bring in location-based services is… It’s on the horizon, but I still can’t quite get my brain around what that means. And that was pretty much our first stop. It was interesting. I’m going to keep my eye on this, see how it evolves. But yeah. And then of course, just like with the supermarkets, this department store probably becomes a forward logistics hub for everything. So you can start to use this as a local warehouse. Maybe the back of the department store is basically a warehouse for anything in the front of the store as a retail space. So it becomes part of your overall e-commerce logistics network. where you push a lot of inventory close to where people live, which means you can deliver faster. So, we see that in all of their new retail stuff. Okay, next stop. Now our second stop was to visit, I think, China’s number one live streamer, which is Viya. She’s a young woman who started out selling, I think, beauty products and stuff, but now she pretty much sells everything. And Singles Day is obviously a big deal. So she was doing like nine hours a day of live streaming various products. And this is really a fascinating thing that live streaming has become such a big thing in China over the last one to two years where something like seven to 10% of all sales in China on online e-commerce are driven by live streamers. And these are people that, you know, they’re like KOLs. key opinion leaders who would talk about products, but they’re live and they sort of talk in real time and they show products. Obviously, there’s this interaction between people like this who are, you could consider them content creators and brands and merchants who then hire them to talk about their products because the live streamers have the audience and they can move tremendous amounts of product very quickly. tens of millions of dollars in an hour of various things. And this young woman, Via, she’s I guess one of the top ones and she did a co-live streaming with Kim Kardashian last week I think, when Kim was launching her thing in China, her perfume or whatever. So it’s an interesting phenomenon to think about and there is a Taobao live streaming group. And then there’s a company called Qian Xun, which is, I think, also owned outright by Alibaba at this point. And they train and they produce these live streamers. And there’s lots of them. And a handful of them are incredibly successful. And most of them aren’t. It’s a very sort of power curve type market. But I mean, it’s worth talking about. why these are so effective. Now we went to the Alibaba, another Alibaba building, there’s like a million Alibaba buildings in Hanjo, and we ended up sort of asking questions to Via, and then we got to go and watch her live stream during her performance in her studio. And her studio was basically a room like with probably 10 to 15 people scrambling around with lots of boxes and clothing, and they’re all piling it up and bringing it forward. And then in one corner of the room, there’s a relatively small desk and she sits there about two feet from the camera talking at the camera and people keep bringing her items and she’s just talking away. It’s kind of fun to watch. It wasn’t that impressive of an operation in person, but the financials are really, really impressive and the reach is impressive. So the interesting thing about this, I think, is why is it so effective? Like Why is this taking off? And I think it’s a couple things. The first is you kind of realize how terrible most advertisements actually are. If you are showing a makeup, you’re probably just looking at a photograph in a magazine. It’s two dimensional, it’s static, it doesn’t move. And maybe it’s got a model who’s pretty, but you don’t know who that person is. Or maybe it’s got a celebrity, like I don’t even know who models makeup. Okay, so there’s a celebrity, I guess that means something. But it’s not a very engaging or authentic or really helpful experience. Because what is the brand trying to achieve? Now, they are trying to achieve sales, true, but they’re probably focused more on introducing their product and telling a story, explaining it, educating. This is a new makeup, it uses so-and-so product, discovered it’s good for this situation. It’s not just about selling it, it’s telling a story. It’s building a relationship. It’s informing. And especially for things like fashion and makeup, which evolve so quickly, it’s about here’s what’s new. Here’s what’s new. Well, none of that comes across in a photo of someone you don’t know that doesn’t move. Now let’s say you do it live. You show it, maybe not live, a video, and someone’s putting on the makeup. and they’re turning their face from side to side, suddenly you can actually see what it’s doing, which is a lot better, like a TV ad. But the person can also talk about it. You know, here’s what we’re doing, we can educate them on it, this is the product. You know, so much of what the brand wants to achieve can be done in video that they can’t be done in a photograph. But again, you’re still probably talking to someone or listening to someone you don’t know. Okay, then we move to KOLs. Well, this is a person maybe you kind of know that they’re not a celebrity or some model. You know, most of these KOLs are regular people. They’re not the most pretty people. They’re regular college students and young adults. And you watch them for hours and you feel like you kind of know them and you can chat with them online. So there’s actually a feeling that this is a real person. It’s authentic. and you can actually kind of have a bit of a relationship and you feel like you know them that person’s like me. Now when that person begins to talk about the product, it carries a lot more weight than here’s an advertisement by a corporation. So it’s authentic, it’s real, it does a much better job of education, it does a much better job of here’s what’s new. I mean you watch a lot of these videos about anything like remodeling your home or doing makeup or clothing. It’s almost like you’re taking a little class. You get smarter and smarter about how it is. You learn how it works. You learn what to think about. And it’s really the live streamer, the KOL, who does that. Now, live streaming is sort of a more powerful version of KOL because it’s live. And you can chat with the person while you’re doing it. And you can buy stuff while they’re doing it. And it’s more like going to a rock concert as opposed to listening to a CD. So in that sense, it’s more powerful. The weakness is if you’re making videos, they last forever. But if you’re doing live streaming, no one wants to watch your stuff from days ago. And that sort of led us to the next event, which was I think probably the most useful in terms of just pure content, which is meeting with, there was a brand panel, and they had brands that had worked with the T-Mall Innovation Center talk about what they’d been doing. And this is actually. The Tmall Innovation Center is really, I think, important. And this is a good indication of where things are going forward. Basically, they had Nestle, they had, who else, L’Oreal, a company called Allbirds, where I think this is Leonardo DiCaprio. Leonardo DiCaprio is a shoe company or something. But this is where, you know, this idea of you go to a company like Alibaba to do sales, which is how they started. And then, you know, that led to things like doing marketing. Okay, you hire them to do marketing and then they do payment, things like that. Then you use them for logistics. You can see that the platform is providing more and more services that enable you to do your retailing, your merch, and that sort of stuff. Sort of the latest frontier of that is T-Mall Innovation Center where you’re starting to use the platform to do your product development and research. And this center basically works with brands to say, look. you know, let’s, you know, a lot of Singles Day is launching new products. And so they provide them data because the platform has tons of data on, you know, you have this interesting product. Did you know 80% of the people who buy your product also buy this product? Maybe you should do an ancillary offering into that. Um, so an example would be Nestle, which had an interesting comment. They basically said, you know, getting Chinese to drink coffee. is actually pretty difficult because they don’t drink very much coffee. It’s been very, very low for consumption for a long time. So they did sort of a deep dive into the data to work on that and one of the things they came up with is various profiles of consumers who might drink coffee. And they don’t really want consumer profiles. They want situations, occasions. They call it a coffee drinking occasion. And you would build around that. And one of the occasions they came up with they called the coffee, the fitness lovers, make sure I got that right, the fitness lovers, where it turns out there were people who would drink, I guess, pretty strong black coffee right before they go to the gym. My whole life I’ve never heard of this, but I guess that’s what the data is showing. So they came up from that initial data, they came up with a couple concepts, and then you test those concepts, and one of the ones I guess that did well is some sort of like… I don’t know what they’re calling it, power coffee or something where it’s a coffee that’s designed and marketed as this is what you have right before you go to the gym. Boost up your energy level. That’s a really interesting process and there’s really three steps and all of them are important. The first step is you data mine. You go into the data, you look for new consumers or you look for new products for consumers and so on. That is dramatically faster this way than say doing market research which can take months and months. One of the big things about this sort of Tmall Innovation Center is it’s much, much faster than doing it the traditional way where new products before might take 18 months to launch. Most of these companies seem to be able to start from, hey, I’ve got an idea to launch in three to five months. So they were calling it efficient innovation. So the first step would be gather the data. Okay, you come up with the data, you come up with the idea, then you come up with a couple concepts. But again, what do you do with those? What do you need to test them? In most situations, you’d go out to the market, you’d have, I don’t know, focus groups who give it out. Again, hard to know if it’s really gonna sell. But on the Innovation Center, you can test it within the Alibaba ecosystem, which is actually real consumers. So you can roll out your concepts. and then see if people are drinking them and why not. And if they are drinking them, you can contact them. What did you think about it? And if they click on it, but then don’t buy it, you can contact those people too. So you get real time feedback, not real time, real feedback from real consumers on what they like. And then you can use that to refine your concepts. So that’s sort of step three. Step one is gather the data. Step two is design some concepts. Step three. is to test your concepts with real consumers and then use that to feedback and refine, refine, refine until you’ve got it right and then you launch it. So it’s kind of like a real world testing and it’s much faster. So that was Nestle which I thought was interesting. The other group I thought was really interesting was L’Oreal because L’Oreal is super popular in China. I mean it’s the number one beauty brand. Their L’Oreal Paris brand, I guess, is their flagship. I don’t know too much about makeup, really. And they’ve done this for several years. And they describe Singles Day kind of how, as I said earlier, it’s not a moment to sell a bunch of stuff and move a bunch of product. They call it, this is a quote, a special moment to engage with consumers. They don’t talk about, hey, we want to move product. They talk about, we want to increase engagement. We want to provide content. We want to tell stories. We want to identify consumers and fans, potential consumers and fans. So they’re really, all those words like engagement, stories, content, engage with consumers, identify brands. They’re talking about building a brand. That’s really what they’re doing. They’re viewing their brand as an asset. My mom just went out the back door here. You can see they’re viewing this as an exercise in brand building in Singles Day. So they came up with a couple ideas for Singles Day new products. They pointed out the same thing that they went from, hey, let’s do this to product done in two months, which is very fast. They came up with something I didn’t really understand. They said it was called 3 a.m. Cream where you I guess you use it if you’re up working late at night and you know you’re going to have to get up the next day so you put it on at 3 a.m. or late at night so you still look good in the morning and they call it 3 a.m. cream. Apparently it was a big hit. They sold a tremendous amount. I didn’t, I don’t really get it. They talked about how they sort of engage with the live streamers and the KOLs and it’s pretty much what I said. They, you know… They don’t tell these folks what to say. They want these KOLs, Life Shrooms, to talk about their product, but to do so authentically and in their own words and in their own opinions. So I think they mostly just give them information. And because beauty products are evolving so quickly, that they sort of almost educate the KOLs on what’s new in cosmetic skin, pseudocals, that sort of thing. So that was kind of interesting. That’s kind of how they work with the KOLs. And then they talked about the Tmall 2.0, which I mentioned, and they described it as basically online merge offline. It’s an opportunity to really improve the customer consumer experience. So they have things like a virtual try on feature where you can look at your camera, it takes your picture, or maybe it does it in real time. and it puts the makeup on you so you can see what you look like. You can book makeup services at home through the app. You can book a dermatologist or I guess plastic surgery. There’s skin diagnostic tools where the AI looks at a mole or looks at your skin and tells you what you should do. So I mean you can see they’re sort of integrating the online and the offline capabilities. That’s pretty powerful. Anyway, so that was kind of the brand panel which I thought was really, really helpful. Okay, so our next stop was a meeting with Chris Tung, who is the chief marketing officer of Alibaba. Now, this was off the record, so I can’t really say what he said. I’ll talk about some things I thought were important. This guy, he probably has the most fun job in all of China because he’s the one who talks to all the brands and merchants and retailers and looks at all the data. And he probably has more insight. to what Chinese consumers are buying, thinking, doing than just about anyone. He’s really at sort of the cat bird seat on all of this. It’s pretty amazing. And as the volume grows and as the complexity of the platform increases, and as Chinese consumers just change, I mean, they’re changing very, very quickly. They’re dramatically different than just a couple years ago. So, I mean, I figure his job must be just tremendously fun. Now from that conversation, with this is my opinion, nothing I’m saying is anything he said, sort of the questions I was really thinking about was the growth. Because when you get this question all the time, like how much is Alibaba going to grow? How much is Chinese e-commerce going to grow? Is it slowing down? You hear this all the time. And I’ve been thinking about sort of four levers of growth. I wrote this up in, I think, one of my daily updates this week. The growth levers everyone always talks about is numbers of users and spending per user. So numbers of users, they always say, okay, we’re going from first and second tier cities in China to third, fourth, fifth. So you’re adding more people to the platform and therefore the growth is going to slow down because you’re running out of places in China to expand to, which is true, although they can keep, you know, they’re growing into Southeast Asia. quite well, although that’s much smaller. And then there’s Russia and India and other places, but it’s not as obvious. The second driver, which is interesting, is this idea of rising discretionary spending. The phrase you always hear is upgrading of lifestyle, that people are living better lives, they’re taking nicer vacations, they’re buying nicer clothes, they’re buying nicer furniture. So the spending per user keeps growing up as the country gets wealthier. That’s a big trend. Everyone likes to talk about that one. The other one I think is new retail. This idea that Chinese online spending e-commerce is about 25% of total retail spending. I think that’s about $1.6 or $7 trillion. I think overall retail spending for China last year is about $5.6 trillion, which has just surpassed the US just last year. So it’s about 25% of that. And that’s actually higher in China than places like the US or the West where e-commerce is usually about 20% of all retail. But there’s this idea that that can keep growing into the other 75% that maybe next year it’ll be 28% of all retail is online and then 30 and then 32. And that’s really what new retail is about. It’s about bringing in the other aspects of the retail spending and experience into this world. So that’s a third growth driver. The fourth one, which is what I’ve been thinking about, is it sort of feeds off the T-Mall Innovation Center, this idea that, you know, there are such, there’s a lot of opportunities to find things that people really do want, but we never knew they wanted, you know, by doing data analysis, then coming up with new products. Maybe the products don’t exist yet, and then we meet this new demand like the fitness, whatever that was, fitness lovers coffee. You know, it may be that all of retail, supply, inventory, the stores has just been very crude and inaccurate, and that we’re actually not serving most needs very well. And it turns out people want more things. And if you’re getting smarter and the system is becoming innovative and dynamic, that you can just keep coming up with new stuff and people will keep buying. Sort of like how you watch entertainment, that we don’t all watch the same 10 shows for 10 years. They always keep changing and evolving and fads come and go. Maybe all product categories will be that way, which is interesting. Now you eventually will reach a limit by share of wallet. At a certain point, there’s no more money to spend, although you can give people credit and then they keep spending, which is a problem. So there is this idea of is innovation driven growth kind of an endless opportunity? It might be. It might be. People may just have an insatiable appetite to consume various products and services and experiences. And the more intelligent and data driven the system gets, the more we can sort of meet that and probably shape it. So I thought that was kind of an interesting thing. Those are all my comments. None of those are Chris’s. And the last sort of stop on this trip was the Fly Zoo Hotel, which is another sort of new retail model. You know, the new retail is a lot of experimentation. We take the physical assets, we take the online assets, we merge them together into one, in theory, sort of seamless, data-driven consumer experience. And in some cases, like the supermarkets, furniture stores, probably department stores. It really is pretty amazing and it makes the previous business model obsolete. And that was sort of one of my digital superpower questions. In other situations, okay, it’s nice, but it’s not a total game changer. When banks added ATMs, that was nice. It was an upgrade, but it didn’t make the old banks obsolete. It’s just kind of, okay, we all do that. I sort of put the hotels in this category. The idea that we’re going to. digitize hotels and combine all this, which is what the Fly Zoo Hotel is. I put it in that category. I thought it was cool. I didn’t think it was a big problem for other hotels, but it’s basically there’s I think there’s just one of them now, which is right near the Alibaba campus. We walked a little bit on campus, which is great. They have these little booths set up where people are live streaming from basically cubicles out in the quad. You can see people like the Thai group was doing Lazada and people just selling stuff. Anyway, so down the street is the Fly Zoo Hotel and they’re really prototyping it. Most of what I think they’re doing is just experimenting, seeing what works, seeing what doesn’t. There’s the big question of scalability, that how many of these models, even if they’re cool, are scalable? Because they like to do things that are scalable. So anyways. You go into the hotel, there’s basically a lobby with no check-in and there’s no people. And they had a little bit of a showroom almost, which was kind of odd. But you’re basically supposed to make the reservation on your phone, on your app, because they have a hotel reservation system. Obviously you pay with Alipay and you actually check in on your phone as you’re, as you’re in the taxi or wherever you don’t check in in the lobby at all. You do it on your phone. It gives you the, you know, you either do it with your phone or your face, and then it gives you the key code or whatever. And so by the time you show up, you’re already checked in. Now in the lobby, there are actually some kiosks and those are the backups. So if you couldn’t do it on your phone, you go to the kiosk in the lobby, you either scan your phone or it’s does facial recognition and it checks you into your room and there’s two other checkpoints. So then you go to the elevator. Elevator has a little camera on it, it sees you, opens the door if you match, you know, facial recognition. You go up to your room, you walk up to the door, the door has a camera on it, it sees you, opens the door for you. So you don’t really have to touch anything really. Well, I guess you have to touch the handle to open the door. All sort of automated. It pretty much looks like a regular hotel. You go into the hotel room, it looks pretty much the same. There’s a T-Mall Genie, which is their AI assistant. It does the basic commands you would expect. Please turn on the lights. What is the weather today? Please play some music. Open the curtains. Turn on the TV. You can order food. Same thing, you order the food. A little robot comes down the hallway. They call it the space egg. Comes up to your doorway. A little panel opens. Your food comes out. Fine. It’s all fine. It’s nice. The part that actually I thought was more interesting was we went down to the gym. And the gym was really cool. I mean, it had the treadmills and the weights, but there was this big panel against one whole wall. And then there was like almost like a tic-tac-doe board on the floor and every, each person can stand in one square and then sort of a workout comes on the screen and you all do what it says within your own square. So it’ll say, put your right foot here in lunge and you put your right foot where the, on the floor, the panel lights up. tells you where to put it. And you all kind of do it together like group calisthenics, which was actually, it was pretty neat. Like it was surprisingly interesting. And it’s a big problem for people who lead gym classes because it was great. And I think gym teachers might have a bit of a problem with that or yoga teachers and things like that. So I thought that was interesting and there’s probably some good business models you can take out of that that will be very disruptive to traditional gyms that base themselves on membership and lots of employees. And then we went down to the bar and the bar has a robot arm that makes all your drinks. It can pretty much make any drink you want and it’s just a robot arm that shakes the shaker and pours it into your martini glass and hands it to you and you pay with Alipay and all of that. And there was even a frozen yogurt machine. which was just a robot. You know, it’s basically the same as any yogurt machine you’ve ever seen at a McDonald’s, but instead of a person doing it, there was a little robot arm that did it. So that was kind of interesting. I didn’t think any of those were game changers, but I thought they were reasonably cool, and that was the FlyZoo Hotel. After that, we had a dinner with Michael Evans, who’s the president of Alibaba. He used to be a Goldman Sachs guy, and now he’s doing this. Really super smart. I can’t talk about what he… He said, that’s off the record. Um, but you know, they’re doing, they’re doing a lot of international stuff, which is what you’d expect, you know, this question of where does the growth come from? How do you build your supply chain? So it’s global and they’ve got, um, you know, tons of initiatives, like it would take forever to go through all their initiatives and a lot of them won’t work out, but a lot of them will, and that was pretty much the day from there. I hustled back to Shanghai and then pretty quickly after I got a light back to California. So, and that got me up at 3 a.m. Anyways, but it was a pretty amazing experience. It’s worth studying. One, because it sort of shows you where the leading edge of e-commerce is, not just in China. I’m talking singles day. Like it shows you where the leading frontier is for China. And that’s pretty much the leading frontier for e-commerce everywhere at this point. So, so many of the things we see coming out of China are really shown in large form on Singles Day and then the rest of the world starts to adopt them. KOLs, live streamers, all of this stuff. So it’s a really good thing to keep an eye on. And it’s a lot of fun. The ending sales total was $38 billion, GMV, which was up about 23% from last year, which is pretty amazing because it’s a big number and it’s growing fast. So, you know, Singles Day, it was about up the same amount the year before that. So it’s still going up. strong and it’s very interesting to watch all this happen. We’ll see what happens next year. But that’s basically it for me today. Just a lot of me talking today, no assignments, and we’ll get back to sort more standard, you know, content, concepts, companies next week and, you know, some assignments, things like that. Thank you to those of you who have signed up. I really do appreciate it. I’ve started to chat with people online who have come into the discussion If you’re a subscriber, you get into the discussion forum and there’s quite a bit more material and daily updates I send out. And yeah, we’re starting to chat in the forum. That’s great. That’s just getting started. Very enjoyable. So you can sign up for my class at and for this podcast alone, which is free, you can sign up at iTunes. And that’s it. I hope everyone has a fantastic week. Thank you so much for listening. Talk to you soon.


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