Alibaba has announced that its total sales on Singles’ Day — China’s largest online shopping festival — reached a record $9.3 billion.
In case you missed the media hype and have no idea why November 11 (11/11) is significant, it’s China biggest e-commerce sales day. Think of it as an amalgamation of all of North America’s biggest online retail days into one… on steroids.
Home decor was a popular product category and Alibaba revealed that it sold over 1.2 million “large” home appliances, and over three million light products. But 11/11 also covers regular products — Alibaba sold more than 200,000 bottles of detergent — and the one-offs too, the company sold 50,000 cars from across its retail businesses.
The shopping day touched other parts of the group’s business beyond its marketplace websites. Alipay, its Paypal-like affiliate, saw the volume of payments processed increase by 60 percent to reach $5.8 billion across the entire day.
“Alibaba hopes to make a contribution to the Chinese economy. We feel the Chinese economy doesn’t lack external demand but internal demand is much needed and we are fortunate enough to be able to tap this demand,” Alibaba Founder and Executive Chairman Jack Ma said in a statement.
Last year, Alibaba did $5.75 billion in sales across its two biggest shopping services — its Taobao Marketplace and T-Mall site for brands — and the company easily matched that this year, reaching that number with more than ten hours left in the day.
The big numbers started early, and Alibaba said it clocked its first $1 billion this year in less than 20 minutes — by 12.17am to be precise. The company went on to notch its second billion in GMV one hour and 12 seconds in the sales. For comparison, Cyber Monday in the U.S. generated a record $2.29 billion in sales last year.
Impressive revenue from mobile devices
It’s interesting to note that 42.6 percent of sales came from customers using mobile devices, for the first $2 billion in sales that figure was even higher at 46 percent.
Those are hugely encouraging stats for Alibaba, which has been forced to adapt its business model and strategies in recent times to cater to the huge growth in mobile internet usage in China.
Alibaba noted in its inaugural earnings report last week that its group-wide revenue from mobile devices grew a whopping 1,020 percent year-on-year to account for $606 million in the most recent quarter of business. That’s up from $54 million one year previous. Over September, the company claimed 217 million monthly active users of its mobile apps — another impressive feat.
Planning shopping around Singles’ Day
It was always like that Singles’ Day 2014 would break all records once again. Last year, Alibaba notched an 80 percent growth in sales compared to the shopping day in 2012, but this year it widened its efforts behind Mainland China, with sales expanding worldwide.
Experts believe that 11/11 has become an integral part of Chinese shopping culture, so we should expect record to tumble each year.
“Chinese users now plan their shopping around this promo day. They have come to expect great deals. And are willing to wait for it to buy. So this sales record will likely be broken every year, ” Hans Tung, managing partner of GGV Capital — an early investor in Alibaba — told TechCrunch.
Finally, more wow figures to give you a sense of perspective: Alibaba estimates that 27,000 merchants and 42,000 brands were involved in the 11/11 sales this year. That covers Tmall, Taobao, and also its AliExpress and Tmall Global services for customers outside of China.
Note: The original version of this post was updated to reflect Alibaba’s final sales figures and add comment from GGV Capital.