• Frankfurt Book Fair 2016

Frankfurt Book Fair 2016 (Photo : Getty Images)

Thanks to the use of virtual and augmented reality to convince millions of single Chinese to shop online on Nov. 11, retail experts predict another windfall for Alibaba Group Holdings on Friday. They forecast a 40 percent boost on sales to reach $20 billion compared to 2015 when the Chinese e-commerce giant broke sales record with $14.3 billion sales.

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It took 1.7 million workers, 400,000 vehicles, 5,000 warehouses and 200 planes to deliver the 2015 Singles' Day orders, according to Shanghaiist.

For 2016, British online retailers are joining the mad rush for the click button by making specific offers targeted at single Chinese consumers, China Daily reported. The projected jump in year-on-year sales is also because the Alibaba Group expanded the Single Day Sales to 24 days and it has opened up the sales to Hong Kong and Taiwan residents.

To facilitate shopping online, consumer do not need to click the mouse when purchasing. Alibaba is pilot testing Buy+, a virtual reality headset that allows shoppers to walk around in simulations of bricks-and-mortar locations in different countries such as Macy’s flagship store in New York. Once the virtual shopper finds an item and wants to buy it, all the consumer has to do is nod to confirm the sale.

In August, Alibaba’s online store Tmall experimented the use of the virtual reality promotion tool on Sainsbury, a supermarket chain in Britain. The 90-minute trial on a 360-degree live broadcast of Sainsbury’s London supermarkets recorded the highest number of orders on Tmall.

It was Sainsbury’s second-most popular live broadcast after it aired live an afternoon tea party on the birthday of the British Queen.

Ahead of the Singles’ Day China online shopping holiday, Alibaba also released a mobile app similar to Pokemon Go. It is a location-based augmented reality app in which users would follow an animated mascot on their mobile phones through real city streets, leading them to outlets of several international brands such as Starbucks and KFC.

Among the British brands that would offer Singles' Day discounts are Whittard of Chelsea, Liverpool Football Club, Bob Martin, Jellycat, Cambridge Satchel, Myprotein and Burberry.