Learning from China

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Learning from China

Revenue from China’s Alibaba’s shopping extravaganza on Nov. 11 — known as Double 11 or Single’s Day — reached $25.3 billion, a new record that eclipses U.S. shopping events Black Friday and Cyber Monday combined. A live-broadcast gala drew 1.48 billion shoppers on a single day and generated sales that more than quadrupled the record of last year’s Black Friday sales figure. One day, Black Friday may be referred to as the U.S. version of China’s Single’s Day event.

The Alibaba-led shopping blowout sold merchandise from around the globe with mega discounts. Mobile shopping made up 90 percent of the transactions. The shopping frenzy even featured a star-studded live event and every possible resource from Alibaba was used — online, offline, mobile and artificial intelligence. The supply, retail and distribution chain was upgraded through big data and other high tech. Alibaba is looking to edge Amazon as a high-tech retail platform.

What started off as an anti-Valentine’s Day activity to celebrate being single with self-indulgence in 2009 has quickly become the world’s biggest shopping event. Nov. 11 in Korea, meanwhile, has been commemorated as Pepero Day, since the number 11 resembles the cookie stick. The holiday acts as a Korean version of Valentine’s Day.

We have a lot to learn from China’s success. Korea has been hosting shopping extravaganzas, but they are often even snubbed by Korean consumers. Because it is enforced by the government, businesses hold events mostly out of formality. The Fair Trade Commission plans to share its exclusive right to file charges against retail and franchise firms for antitrust activities with consumers and civic groups. A retailer could face charges and lawsuits if it demands suppliers undercut the prices of products for its sale event.

The government must be more aggressive in deregulations so that bold companies like Alibaba can be bred in Korea. The services industry act and other deregulations bills remain idle in the National Assembly. The liberal government must complete the actions by the former conservative administration to remove barriers and red tape. The conservative opposition would not oppose. We cannot go on being content with increased domestic sales and shopping benefits thanks to the China’s Single’s Day.

JoongAng Ilbo, Nov. 14, Page 34
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