Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd said it racked up more than $5 billion in transactions in the first hour of its annual ‘Singles’ Day’ sales blitz on Friday – a third more than in the first hour of last year’s spree.
The 24-hour event held annually on Nov. 11 offers a benchmark for Alibaba’s performance and an insight into China’s swing to online shopping, especially via smartphones. Launched in 2009, Alibaba’s version of the event was designed to encourage consumers without a partner to treat themselves.
Alibaba’s online marketplace sale began at 11:00 a.m. EDT. It posted $1 billion in sales within the first five minutes, the company reported.
In the first hour, order volume reached a record-breaking 175,000 orders per second, according to Clavis Insight. Total sales in the first two hours passed $5 billion, with 84% of sales coming from mobile devices.
The sale is mainly aimed at shoppers in China and Asia. Close to 100,000 brands, 11,000 of them from outside China, will be selling orders on the site, said Alibaba.
It’s also a big target for U.S. retailers looking to reach Chinese consumers. Last year the United States was the top seller of imported goods, Alibaba said. Overseas brands accounted for 10% of Singles’ Day purchases in 2015.
“Back in 2013, 35 billion yuan ($5.15 billion) was our one-day GMV (gross merchandise volume),”
“Now we can achieve it in one hour.”
– said Chief Executive Officer Daniel Zhang in a live microblog posting on Alibaba’s event.