China’s biggest annual shopping bonanza smashed records last month as online sales on Alibaba alone hit US$9.3 billion, more than the total racked up the same day last year across the industry.
Sales on Alibaba’s e-shopping platforms reportedly exceeded US$2 billion in just the first hour of “Singles Day” on November 11.
The online shopping festival on Singles Day started as a way to celebrate single people but it has now morphed into a sales frenzy that attracts buyers both single and paired.
People bought everything from dried cranberries to home appliances. Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi said it sold 720,000 smartphones, bringing in US$163 million in sales in 12 hours.
Last year, Singles Day sales online totalled US$8 billion on Alibaba and other platforms, more than double the combined US$3 billion sold in the US for Black Friday and Cyber Monday, according to the Boston Consulting Group. Alibaba accounted for 75% of all online shopping on Singles Day last year.
Singles Day began as a cheeky antidote to Valentine’s Day. It takes place each year on November 11 – or 11/11, representing four single people.
Alibaba moved to capitalise on the shopping fervour back in 2009, when it began promoting special discounts to pull in more customers.
Alibaba offers deals on everything – food, apparel, electronics, home appliances, cosmetics and more. Last year, a 13-carat diamond was sold for nearly US$4 million.
This year, Alibaba went beyond China, partnering with sellers on its online marketplaces to lure shoppers around the globe with bargains. Customers from 217 countries and regions placed orders, with 43% of total online sales coming through mobile devices.