Alibaba Brings New Retail to NYFW

September 13, 2018

“New retail” has arrived and I got to see it firsthand.

New retail is the idea of moving all retail beyond the delineations of digital and physical. Alibaba has embraced the concept and defines it as, “The boundary between offline and online commerce disappears as we focus on fulfilling the personalized needs of each customer.”

Never has this sentiment been more apparent than at this year’s New York Fashion Week (NYFW). I had the opportunity to attend Alibaba’s second China Day , a series of NYFW events that bring modern Chinese designers to the US. I was most struck by the impact and integration of technology at every level. Technology used to be an add-on tool, and now it truly is the backbone connecting the entire retail industry.

During these events, I noticed 3 “new retail” technology drivers that are helping to merge the physical and digital worlds in retail and fashion, all of which better enable brands to focus on the customer:

1.      Data insights are gamechangers for really knowing the customer, and more effectively positioning brands

This year’s China Day centered on the new female generation shopping and emerging in China today. Alibaba Tmall selected the designers for fashion week based on the 3 categories the company felt most represented the “contemporary young Chinese consumer” – luxury, trendy, and rising middle class. Three leading Chinese women designers showcased their collections – Particle FeverJNBY, and Angel Chen, and their collections were handpicked by Alibaba Tmall based on the data and insights that Tmall gathered on its platform.

There are more than 600 million customers on the Tmall Fashion platform, and the company surveyed and analyzed its Tmall Fashion shoppers to gain insights and a deep understanding of the modern Chinese shopper. While the 3 categories represented at this year’s NYFW only account for 20% of the shoppers on Tmall fashion, these shoppers total nearly 30% of the spending power. Thus, Alibaba’s Tmall Fashion online analytics informed its NYFW China Day designer presence.

 Source: Alibaba NYFW China Day, Wall Mural

2.      Technology is helping brands target consumers as they shop from online to offline

“The new retail solution, where consumers can shop seamlessly from online to offline, is not just lip service but is actually in practice,” according to Jieyi Zoey Liu, Founder of Particle Fever, a Tmall China Day featured runway brand. Liu said that new retail is about presenting a cohesive brand to the consumer across all channels – online, offline, in fashion shows, at events, and on social media.

Liu said her brand, Particle Fever, started as an online brand and was invited by Tmall to open a Flagship shop on its platform. Her flagship Tmall store has grown by triple digits every year. She explained, “Fashion is not an easy thing. You need a team that knows about everything today – store operations, engineering, technology, supply chain, manufacturing, retail, finance – and not just design.”

Source: Particle Fever RTW Spring Collection 2019

Two years ago, her brand opened two flagship offline stores, one in Beijing and the other in Shanghai. She described the “new retail’ concept whereby if a customer is shopping in the physical store, the customer’s online profile will appear to the store merchant providing data and analytics on the customer. She said this is a very efficient and easy way for the brand to engage with customers and provide insights on the consumer shopping history.

3.      See-now-buy-now drives immediate sales and awareness for designers

Beginning on September 13, 2018, customers in China are able to watch the NYFW runway shows and buy runway looks through a see-now-buy-now shoppable platform on the Tmall app. Tmall has a dedicated China Day page devoted to NYFW shows. The first China Day shows were successful in building brand awareness and creating buzz for brands.

 Source: Alibaba NYFW China Day
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