The Chinese e-commerce giant invented Singles Day to boost online sales. This year they got even more than they bargained for.
Chinese e-commerce juggernaut Alibaba brought in $14.3 billion in total sales volume during China’s shopping holiday, Singles Day. This year’s sales were up 60% from last year’s total, which was $9.3 billion.
The pace at which Chinese consumers were shopping this year was staggering, with sales exceeding $1 billion within eight minutes of Singles Day starting. Alibaba baba also blew past analyst estimates, which Suntrust Robinson and Humphrey estimated to be around $12 billion.
To put this in perspective, Singles Day this year was more than double the total e-commerce sales from Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday combined.
Singles Day was originally created by Alibaba’s CEO Daniel Zhang to gin up online sales, and is the biggest shopping day in the world. The holiday always takes place on the eleventh day of the eleventh month of the year, and it’s not just limited to Alibaba pushing Singles Day. Like Cyber Monday in the U.S., online merchants across China participate.
Alibaba has said this year’s Singles Day will include six million products from over 40,000 merchants, and more than 30,000 brands from 25 countries. International brands selling on Alibaba’s online mall Tmall include P&G PG , Unilever UN , Burberry, Estee Lauder EL , Zara, Huggies, Macy’s M , Costco COST , Apple APPL , and Nike NKE .
Mobile shopping also reached new records, with 94 million people purchasing items on mobile phones. Total sales through mobile exceeded $9.8 billion.
Bob Peck, an analyst with Suntrust Robinson and Humphrey, told Fortune that exceeding $12 billion in Singles Day sales would be “remarkable,” considering that Singles Day gross merchandise volume growth was above 50% in 2014. But this year, Alibaba placed more emphasis on selling U.S. and other international brands, which could make a big difference, he added. Peck is estimating that Alibaba will see gross merchandise value of $156 billion for the quarter ending December 31, 2014 (up from $123 billion from the same quarter in 2014). Peck is also predicting $5.3 billion in sales in the quarter, up from $4.1 billion in the same quarter in the previous year.
Alibaba’s next big challenge following a record-breaking Singles Day will be fulfilling the orders. Already China’s post office estimates that Singles Day will lead to nearly 800 million packages being shipped. Alibaba’s logistics company Cainiao will likely have to coordinate ten times their average daily volume of packages.
Earlier in Singles Day, Alibaba said that Cainiao has received 310 million delivery orders, exceeding the 278 million orders generated last year.
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