Singles Day 2015: Alibaba Breaks Sales Record
Alibaba has broken its own record for sales on China’s Singles Day, the world’s biggest online shopping event.
The e-commerce giant said sales surpassed the record amount of $9.3 billion made last year in just over half the time.
Singles Day, also known as Double Eleven because it is held on November 11, has become a major annual event for Chinese retailers.
Alibaba said more than $1 billion was spent within eight minutes of midnight.
Within the first hour, Alibaba had made $3.9 billion in sales, almost double the amount spent in the same time period of the 2014 Singles Day.
In comparison, sales on Cyber Monday, which is the biggest online shopping day in the US, hit $1.35 billion, according to data analytics company ComScore.
Singles Day has grown tremendously since Alibaba began promoting it as a shopping day in 2009, and now includes many retailers such as rivals JD.com that stage sales promotions.
In 2015, Alibaba said there would be more than 40,000 merchants and 30,000 brands from 25 countries selling goods on its platforms.
More than 130 million users have already visited Alibaba’s marketplace app, Taobao, which exceeds the peak from 2014.
In the lead up to the event, Alibaba hosted a four-hour TV variety show featuring Chinese celebrities and Western entertainers such as Daniel Craig of James Bond fame.
Kevin Spacey appeared as his character President Frank Underwood from the Netflix series House of Cards to wish shoppers a “happy Singles’ Day” in a two minute video.
Alibaba CEO Daniel Zhang had said in a statement that the event would mean “the whole world will witness the power of Chinese consumption”.
He promised consumers “a new surprise every hour” over the 24-hour marathon, especially mobile users.
Alibaba said more than 27 million purchases came via mobile devices in the first hour.
Although its competitors offered attractive discounts, Fangting Sun, China-based analyst at market research firm Euromonitor International said that consumers’ attention was still focused on Alibaba’s online marketplace Tmall.com.
Alibaba accounts for more than 80% of China’s internet sales market.
It predicts that 1.7 million couriers, 400,000 vehicles and 200 planes will be making deliveries of products that range from electronics goods to cosmetics despite slowing growth in China.
Economists will be looking for clues about domestic consumption in Wednesday’s sales as China’s economy, the world’s second-biggest, heads for its slowest growth in nearly a quarter of a century.