Alibaba smashes records by taking $17.8bn in sales on 'Singles Day'

Alibaba 11.11 festival 2017 totalled $17.8bn in sales

Alibaba has smashed its own record by 32% to tally a huge $17.8bn in sales during its annual sales day 11.11 festival, known outside of China as ‘Singles Day’.

The ecommerce giant hosts a sales day each year on 11.11, promoting its range of goods at a discounted price via almost two weeks worth of ‘gala’ entertainment and industry-first technology stunts.

This year the company broke its own record for sales but also counted 82% of the sales to have come from mobile phone users, which Alibaba is a sign of things to come for retailers the world over.

"This year’s 11.11 is a preview of the future of retail, where entertainment, commerce and interactive engagement intersect seamlessly,” said Daniel Zhang, chief executive officer of Alibaba Group.

“From the kick-off of warm-up activities to last night’s countdown gala and all the way through the 24-hour global shopping festival itself, we’ve seen unprecedented engagement between consumers and merchants. 11.11 showcased how online and offline retail will be reinvented to offer brand new shopping experiences to our hundreds of millions of mobile, digitally savvy active users,” he added.

According to Alibaba, it counted more than 1 billion transactions in total and, at peak, it’s Alibaba Cloud service that powers its Tmall website was processing 175,000 orders per second.

Alibaba had pulled out all the stops in the marketing activity leading up to this year’s event, with Chief marketing officer Chris Tung telling The Drum that eventually it wanted 11.11 festival to be benchmarked against Christmas and Chinese New Year as a family day.

Tung's description of where the day began, as a sales day for single people in China, to a global family retail festival, is the the marketing industry's own El Dorado.

The countdown gala this year included appearances from ambassador Katy Perry, as well as other international stars including basketball star Kobe Bryant. The brand also used tech such as VR and AR to test the future of retail, linking it to physical locations in China and internationally.

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