Alibaba, the inventor of Singles Day, as a commercial event (now officially called “Global Shopping Festival“) announces ever increasing sales on 11th November each year; the sky seems the limit. Last year’s record of 120.7 billion yuan (17.8 billion US dollars) was broken by midday on Saturday and increased by 48 billion yuan to reach a staggering 168.3 billion yuan (25.3 billion US dollars) by the end of the day.
The first hour of the mega event between midnight and 1 o’clock was key, accounting for goods sold worth 9.9 billion US dollars, almost half of all sales. Accordingly, Alipay, the group’s electronic payment system, was running at full speed: at peak times, about five minutes past midnight, it handled 256,000 transactions per second, the company said, twice as many as during peak times in the previous year.
Given the deep discounts offered not only by Alibaba but anyone, including competitors such as JD.com, many Chinese customers wait for Singles Day to fulfill their annual needs, for example when it comes to creams, toothpaste, soaps and other durable goods. But clothing and electronics such as air conditioning, microwaves and electric shavers were also sought after. According to Alibaba, 92 percent of all purchases were made by smartphone, cementing China’s position as the world’s undisputed number one in m-commerce.
Following its motto “retail as entertainment”, Alibaba celebrated in style – first on the eve of the event with a television gala with celebrities such as Alibaba boss Jack Ma, singer Pharrell Williams, Hollywood star Nicole Kidman and Chinese actress Fan Bingbing. Then, on Sunday, with a huge party in Shanghai, processing 24 hours of continuous stress, 812 million orders (657 million in 2016), 15 million listed products and 140,000 brand partners.