Chinese e-commerce giant founded by billionaire Jack Ma, Alibaba, said it sold over 36.2 billion yuan ($5.9 billion) of merchandise within 14 hours today overtaking last year's record Singles' Day sale of $5.8 billion.
Alibaba has turned the little known Chinese event of Singles' Day (as as opposed to Valentine's Day for couples) into the country's biggest shopping event, taking the event global this year by tapping foreign brands, including Calvin Klein and Blue Nile Inc, Bloomberg reported.
Those companies, along with Costco Wholesale Corp, Origins Natural Resources Inc and American Eagle Outfitters Inc, participated in today's event for the first time.
The retailer, which a couple of months back completed the biggest initial public offering ever by raising $21.8 billion and reaching a market cap of 4231 billion (See: Alibaba zooms on trading debut), was using 27,000 labels to attract international merchants and consumers for a promotion with almost triple the sales of Cyber Monday.
The company offered steep discounts on Tmall as also its other websites to entice shoppers, who were expected to spend over 50 billion yuan, as projected by consultant OgilvyOne Shanghai.
According to Allen Xu, the consultant's managing director 11 November was a key milestone for Alibaba. He added, the company used the festival for building its dominance as an e-commerce player linking businesses to consumers in China. With the IPO, the company has ambitions to make this brand go global, he added.
The Telegraph reported that the ''bare sticks holiday'' as it was locally known began as Singles Day in the 1990s, when university students started to celebrate their singledom on the November 11 -- that's 11/11, or one-one-one-one -- as a sort of a non-Valentine's Day.
Five years ago, Alibaba, turned the date into a shopping event to up sales in the lull between China's Golden Week national holiday in October and the Christmas season.
The company started offering deals on its online shopping platforms, promoting the day as an excuse for self-gifting and personal indulgence.
With 20,000 retailers taking part in 2013, Singles Day sales overtook Cyber Monday's $1.46 billion worth of sales by 8.42 am and by the end of the day, consumers had spent $5.8 billion leaving the combined Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales from all US companies far behind.
This year, according to an Alibaba-related Twitter feed, which was live-tweeting the shopping frenzy, consumers spent $1 billion in the first 17 minutes and within the first hour, shoppers had spent more than $2 billion.