Published: 08/12/2017
To deliver in the moments that matter to people, brands need to design a culture of customer-centricity – not just an intuitive app

On 11 November 2017, a record number of shoppers spent a record amount during Alibaba’s juggernaut Singles Day shopping event. The 168.2 billion yuan ($25.3 billion) shelled out over the 24-hour period involved millions of successful customer journeys. However, arguably the most significant thing about Singles Day wasn’t the amount that shoppers spent – it was the efforts Alibaba went to, in order to control these customer journeys.

Alibaba enlisted some 600,000 traditional mom-and-pop neighbourhood stores across China, an estimated one tenth of all the neighbourhood stores in the country, to act as delivery centres. Through the Ling Shou Tong app that connects to each of the stores, it hopes to exert far greater control over what happens once an order is placed on its platform. Neighbourhood stores are prompted to stock the right goods in advance and then either deliver them to local doorsteps, or store them ready for customers to pick up at their convenience. It’s a bold, sweeping effort to ensure the experience of shopping with Alibaba isn’t undermined by what happens after an order is placed. It’s a case of a customer-centric organisation recognising the level of commitment that true customer-centricity involves today.