Alibaba is expecting 140,000 brands to participate in its giant 11.11 sale this year.

Held annually on the 11th of November, Singles’ Day is the world’s largest online shopping event. Last year 100,000 merchants participated in Alibaba’s 24-hour sale and its ecommerce platforms processed almost US$17.8 billion.

In 2016 Australia was the fourth highest selling country during Alibaba’s 11.11 Global Shopping Festival. This year more than 60,000 international brands will be available to the more than half a billion Chinese consumers visiting Alibaba’s platforms, the company said.

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Alibaba’s logistics network, Cainiao Network, expects over 3 million logistics personnel to handle the millions of packages during the sale and is investing more than US$200 million to help merchants and logistics partners handle the increase in demand.

The sale typically only targets consumers within China, but for the first time Tmall will offer special promotions on Chinese brands to the 100 million overseas Chinese consumers in Asia and around the world.

The pre-sale activity, which kicks off today, will also focus on bricks and mortar retail, building on Alibaba’s New Retail strategy which brings together online and offline shopping.

More than 1,000 brands across various categories will be converting over 100,000 physical locations into “smart stores” which will feature a range of “New Retail experiences” from online browsing, shopping tours, virtual fitting rooms, payments and deliveries.

While more than 600,000 local neighbourhood convenience stores and 30,000 Rural Taobao service centers will be part of this year’s 11.11, utilising Alibaba’s technology to digitise their businesses and to assist merchandising and inventory management.

Alibaba’s augmented-reality game “Catch the Cat” is back. In the lead up to the event Chinese consumers will be able to earn coupons and prizes when they find and scan the Tmall mascot using the Mobile Taobao App. The augmented reality cat can be found in thousands of retail stores including Starbucks and KFC.

The pre-event promotions culminate in a gala event on November 10 in Shanghai and will be directed by Hollywood producer David Hill for the second year in a row. The event will feature celebrity guests and performances livestreamed by three TV station partners in China: Zhejiang TV, Beijing TV and Shenzhen TV.

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