Alibaba’s Singles Day, the annual shopping event invented by China’s e-commerce giant, posted 43% sales growth from a year earlier to a record $25.4 billion as mobile users snapped up bargains. Mobile transactions made up 90% of sales during the day-long event, with as much as 97% of orders coming from mobile devices in the first minute, Yahoo! Finance reported.
Alipay, the online payment service started by Alibaba Group, helped to drive mobile sales with its integration on Alibaba’s smartphone app. Alipay completed 256,000 payment transactions a second at peak within the first hour of Singles Day, per a statement. Singles Day sales dwarf the $12.8 billion in online sales for Black Friday and Cyber Monday, two of the biggest shopping days of the year in the U.S.
Apple, Estée Lauder, Gap, L’Oreal, Nike, Samsung, Uniqlo and Zara were among the 60 brands that each generated more than $15.1 million of sales in the first hour of Singles Day, per a statement. More than 140,000 brands participated in this year’s shopping event.
Alibaba’s Singles Day is a major indicator of the growing buying power of Chinese shoppers as the country seeks to develop a mass consumer market that is less dependent on exports to other regions like the U.S. and European Union. About 80% consumers on Alibaba’s shopping app are younger than 25, which demonstrates the trust that up-and-coming consumer groups place in mobile transactions.
But like Amazon in the U.S., Alibaba has a strategy to integrate online shopping with brick-and-mortar stores, which still make up 85% of total retail sales, according to the company. Alibaba this year has partnered with shopping malls and has set up pop-up stores that let consumers learn about products and buy them in the app. Alibaba CEO Daniel Zhang said the company’s goal is to help shop owners go digital, not necessarily replace their physical stores entirely, Yahoo! News reported.
China has 750 million internet users, and 95% of them used a mobile device to access the internet in 2016, according to China’s state-owned news agency Xinhua. The country’s online retail sales are growing 30% a year with mobile payment transactions surpassing $23.8 trillion, Chinese President Xi Jinping said at a meeting of world leaders in Vietnam on Saturday.
Everything about Singles Day is noteworthy, from the sales volume to the number of transactions that get processed on mobile payment platforms. Held each Nov. 11, the event was started in 2009 with only 27 merchants that sought to raise awareness for online shopping, and has grown into the biggest consumer bonanza of the year.