China's e-commerce giant Alibaba smashed records today with online sales hitting a new high of USD 1.57 billion within minutes on Singles Day, an online buying fiesta in China akin to America's Cyber Monday. As of 8:30 am, the figure stood at 44.2 billion yuan (USD 6.9 billion) according to the company's Zhejiang HQ.
Last year, it took 38 minutes to hit the 10 billion yuan mark and the company is expected to easily break last year's one-day sales record of 57.1 billion yuan (USD 10 billion). Alibaba recorded sales of 10 billion yuan (USD 1.57 billion) within 12 minutes and 28 seconds of midnight.
This year's Singles Day shopping extravaganza came only days after China unveiled proposals for the 13th Five-year Plan (2016-2020), which said consumption should play a "fundamental role" in future economic growth as Chinese government reduce the dependence on exports and focus more on domestic consumption.
Starting as in-joke and an excuse for the unattached to celebrate - or poke fun at - their status in the 1990s, Singles Day has evolved into an online shopping spree for all in recent years, as e-commerce operators stepped in to tap into the buying potential of bachelors and discount-savvy netizens.
At first it was marketed as an "anti-Valentine's Day", featuring hefty discounts to attract Chin's singletons and price-sensitive buyers. Alibaba, which operates China's largest consumer-to-consumer (C2C) and business-to-consumer (B2C) marketplaces Taobao and Tmall, has played a leading role in the Singles' Day shopping craze but faces increasing competition this year, including from its rival JD.com, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.
Headquartered in the eastern city of Hangzhou, Alibaba does not sell products directly but acts as an electronic middleman, operating China's most popular consumer-to-consumer platform, Taobao, which is estimated to hold more than 90 percent of the market.