To mark the biggest shopping day of the year, New Zealand retailers are getting involved with a technology many are unfamiliar with - QR codes.
Britomart Group, together with consultancy firm The Agency 88, which specialises in Asian markets, has bought a slice of China rhetoric to New Zealand in a bid to win over the consumer dollar on Singles' Day.
Singles' Day, or 11.11 as it is commonly known as in China, celebrated on the 11th day of the 11th month, is considered to be the biggest shopping day of the year, surpassing the commercial success of western counterparts Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
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Each year billions of dollars are spent on and during the lead-up to November 11, thanks to Chinese internet giants Alibaba and JD.com. which have in recent years made the occasion a shopping extravaganza, enlisting the help of international celebrities and sports stars to help drive e-commerce sales.
Singles' Day was created by university students as an anti-Valentine's Day movement in the late nineties. It is now considered a significant event in the retail calendar.
A 3-metre tall QR code tunnel has been erected in Takutai Square in downtown Auckland in the lead-up to Singles' Day, allowing shoppers to use their smartphones to scan a QR code from more than 30 local retailers and be directed to their websites to access discounts and special offers to mark the occasion.
Codes can be scanned directly through the camera function or the WeChat app.
The tunnel marks the country's first physical participation and local marketing of the event, which has traditionally has been online only.
Last year, New Zealand retailers that participated in the event made millions of dollars in revenue from online sales, mostly from Chinese consumers. Cleaning products company Ecostore sold $2.36 million worth of product on November 11, while Fonterra clocked $28m from sales of Anchor dairy products and Anmum milk powder.
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More than 30 New Zealand retailers, including those in the fashion, automotive, fresh produce and electronics sectors, are involved with the QR tunnel, which officially launches today - hoping to engage the local Chinese community and wider Auckland. It will be in Takutai Square for the week until November 11.
Businesses from the telecommunications and insurance industries, along with the Financial Markets Authority, are also involved and have their own QR code in the tunnel.
Nick Siu, director of The Agency 88, told the Herald that businesses from a range of industries were beginning to see the opportunity in participating in Singles' Day.
"Brands and marketers have realised that there is a significant ethnic population that is affluent, new and doesn't necessarily watch, listen or download their content and information from their traditional media channels," Siu told the Herald.
"Continual education and messages that we see coming out of huge results from markets like China, I do believe there is a massive [earning] opportunity for New Zealand retailers.
"We know that Singles' Day transacts more than Black Friday and Cyber Monday combined. We also know that increasing numbers of Kiwis are starting to learn about platforms like Alibaba and WeChat, so it only makes sense to bring the worlds together and see if we can create something in New Zealand that may have started as a Chinese-specific event but now expands to everyone."
Siu said some retailers had been hesitant to get involved in and advertise Singles' Day sales out of fear of being perceived as "culturally insensitive".
Britomart Group marketing manager Jeremy Hanson said the objective of the QR code tunnel was to "engage" with the New Zealand Chinese community.
"A lot of [retailers] had wanted to engage with Chinese New Zealanders but in some cases hadn't really known the right place to start. Some of them knew about Singles' Day, many did not," Hanson said.
"Most of our retail and food and beverage tenants in Britomart have decided to take part in the activation."
The decision to have the tunnel operational for a week until November 11 was designed to reflect the lead-up to the event seen in China where retailers hold pre-sale discounts and special offers and sell coupons for discounts ahead of the day.
All up the tunnel is costing $60,000 to be shared among a range of parties.
Caitlin O'Connell, Deadly Ponies store manager for the luxury handbag brand's Britomart store, said this year was the first time the retailer would participate in Singles' Day.
"I'd heard about it previously, but we didn't know as much [we do now] ... we thought it would be a really great experience to be involved in," O'Connell said.
She said the event was an opportunity to engage with Chinese consumers who were not familiar with the brand. The retailer is giving away a free bag with purchases over $699 from November 4-11 to celebrate Singles' Day.
"It is a great way to introduce us to new markets that may not have heard or come into contact with us before."
O'Connell said Deadly Ponies was expanding internationally and participating in the event would give the retailer international exposure.