Alibaba Taobao Maker Festival Showing The Future of eCommerce?

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Image: Taobao | Taobao Festival Crowd
Image: Taobao | Taobao Festival Crowd

Alibaba is concluding today their second annual Taobao Maker Festival. This five-day event spotlights young entrepreneurs that have become a prominent and ever-growing presence on China’s largest eCommerce platform.

What makes this festival so unique is that it aims at younger MillennialsMillennials are also known as Generation Y, Echo Boomers or Millenniums. They encompass the age group of 18-35 as of 2017. With over 71 million in the US population, they are the largest working group... and Generation Z’ers. It also highlights how China’s shopping culture is very different from the US or European norms.

As we posted in a previous article, Generation ZGeneration Z (Gen Z) is a demographic label which encompasses the age group of 13-17 in 2017. Most kids were born around the year 2000. The Gen Z kids will grow up in a highly sophisticated media land... is the next wave of consumers, but they grew up with social media and smartphones. How they interact with technology and how they shop may be very different from today’s eCommerce shoppers.

Will they similarly adapt to social shopping?

SOCIAL SHOPPING THE NORM IN CHINA, COMING TO AMERICA?

Taobao in China is showing how social shopping is becoming increasingly more popular among its younger users. The shopping experience is about content consumption, lifestyle, and community.

That switch is driving higher levels of engagement among users. Younger shoppers spend between 24 to 29 minutes per day shopping, watching live-streamed broadcasts, playing augmented reality games or chatting on buyer forums.

This time spent on Taobao is consistently higher than traditional eCommerce. And according to Comscore and Quest Mobile, ahead of social apps such as Instagram and Snapchat.

Taobao in China is showing how social shopping is becoming increasingly more popular among its younger users. The shopping experience is about content consumption, lifestyle, and community.

That switch is driving higher levels of engagement among users. Younger shoppers spend between 24 to 29 minutes per day shopping, watching live-streamed broadcasts, playing augmented reality games or chatting on buyer forums.

This time spent on Taobao is consistently higher than traditional eCommerce and according to Comscore and Quest Mobile, ahead of social apps such as Instagram and Snapchat.

ASIAN SOCIAL INFLUENCE NOT NEW TO AMERICAN SHORES

In the early 80s, Japanese cars became popular in California, and young Asian Americans started to form car clubs to modify their Japanese cars. This movement was an extension of the California car culture of hot rods and muscle cars from the 60s, but with much more of a social twist.

About 20 years ago, Hot Import Nights, a car and lifestyle show was born in California. It moved the parking lot meetups into arenas and added lifestyle, music, and social elements.

Hot Import Nights is still touring in North American cities today. The lifestyle car show has changed the car culture of younger Americans from muscle cars to imports or sports compact cars.

TAOBAO MAKER FESTIVAL EMBRACES YOUTH MOVEMENT

The Taobao Makers Festival does much the same thing by embracing new technology and a younger audience. Over 108 young entrepreneurs showcased their products at Taobao Maker Festival to a large crowd of young shoppers.

Demos were fun audio/visual rich showcase experiences, not boring product introductions.

Image: Taobao | Young Entrepreneur Demos Stylish Speaker Covers
Image: Taobao | Young Entrepreneur Demos Stylish Speaker Covers

TAOBAO ALSO SHOWCASED NEW TECHNOLOGIES AT THE FESTIVAL

At the Taobao Maker Festival, Alibaba also showcased some of its latest technologies, including its recently announced Tmall Genie virtual assistant and the Tao Café.

The Tao Café is an experimental cashier-less coffee shop that allows customers to shop without queuing to pay.

The beta shop still has a way to go. It could only handle a small number of shoppers in the store, creating a long line of outside.

But it is just another example of how eCommerce is creating ties to the brick & mortar world. We know that Amazon is also experimenting with cashier-less stores.

WHO WILL LEAD THE CHARGE IN THE US OR EUROPE?

When one looks at the landscape of the main eCommerce players like Amazon, Walmart.com, eBay, etc. they all seem a bit dull in comparison.

Facebook appears to have much of the supporting elements in place to build a marketplace like Taobao, but are they interested?

Is Alibaba considering bringing Taobao to the US or Europe? Or will there be someone like Snapchat that is looking to find some monetization footing emerge as the future of Generation Z shopping?

We love to hear your thoughts. Do you think this type of social shopping will emerge as the future in the US and Europe? Let us know in the comment section below.

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