Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba set a new sales record on Singles Day, the world’s largest 24-hour shopping event.
An estimated half-billion shoppers from China to Russia and Argentina swarmed the e-commerce giant’s sites to scoop up everything from Apple Inc. and Xiaomi Corp. gadgets to Ugandan mangoes. The company again hosted a televised entertainment revue in Shanghai to run alongside the bargain-hunting, this time enlisting Taylor Swift and Asian pop icon G.E.M. to pump up sales.
Alibaba has said it expects over 500 million users to make purchases this year, about 100 million more than last year.
Gross merchandise value (GMV), a figure that shows sales across Alibaba’s various shopping platforms, surpassed last year’s 213.5 billion yuan record (nearly $30.5 billion) on Monday afternoon local time, and kept rising through the rest of the day.
It was the 11th edition of the annual Singles Day event — also called the Double 11 shopping festival because it falls on Nov. 11. During the 24-hour period, which began at midnight in Singapore and Hong Kong, Alibaba offered huge discounts across its e-commerce sites such as Tmall.
Alibaba Singles Day sales last year exceeded the spending by consumers during any single U.S. shopping holiday such as Black Friday or Cyber Monday.
To help boost sales, Alibaba expanded the number of discounted items available in this year’s event and put a heavy emphasis on livestreaming via its platforms to help sell goods. Live streaming has become a big part of the shopping experience on Chinese e-commerce sites.
Online personalities often speak to their followers and talk about products as well. On Wednesday, Kim Kardashian did a livestream announcing her fragrance brand KKW will be available for sale on Tmall.
Tensions between Washington and Beijing continue to fuel uncertainty and roil global commerce. Among China’s largest corporations, Alibaba is expected to better ride out the storm, thanks to booming online consumption in the world’s No. 2 economy. On Sunday, Alvin Liu, a Tmall general manager, said Alibaba doesn’t expect any impact on its cross-border import business from an ongoing trade spat.
“Alibaba will probably be the one that will be able to circumvent and come out from the trade war in better shape” versus Baidu Inc. and Tencent Holdings Ltd., Richard Wong, head of ICT for the Asia Pacific at Frost & Sullivan, told Bloomberg Television. “The current sentiment and confidence in terms of spending is still relatively high.”