When Belle International announced it was accepting a buyout offer in April of 2017 from a consortium led by Hillhouse, management highlighted the need to improve its online and tech-driven offer. Less than two years later the company showed how serious it was during China’s massive Singles Day shopping event.
In less than two hours, Belle managed to surpass its entire 2017 Singles Day sales figure, leveraging a host of digital channels that are proving highly effective at reaching millennial shoppers. Belle leveraged tools including WeChat moments, a social media sharing tool in the widely popular WeChat app, to encourage users to share their purchases. Viral mobile video across a host of platforms was another channel to create excitement for Belle products.
Beyond digital marketing efforts, Belle’s use of technology to better target consumers in their brick and mortar stores also yielded outstanding results during the sale. The company uses RFID technology to analyze which products are catching consumers’ eyes, which are turning into purchases and which are getting tried on but put back on the shelves. All of this information can prove critical for product place—both in stores and online—especially in the midst of a 24-hour shopping frenzy when consumers can’t afford to waste a minute.
Belle’s ability to leverage its physical network of more than 20,000 stores was critical to this year’s success. While many in the industry believed that Belle’s huge footprint across the country would slow down the company’s overhaul, Singles Day highlighted that they are using sophisticated targeting strategies that can blend technology and stores to drive sales. Even as Belle was using social media in the virtual space, it recognized that the six million people passing through its stores every day are a tremendous asset that can be capitalized on through technology-driven targeting.
The success of Belle during Singles Day marked another key step on the company’s path to modernize its business and become a model for the new era of online-offline hybrid retail.