The numbers are in on China's "Singles Day," and this year's event was a blockbuster. On Nov. 11, the day called Singles Day or Double 11 Day in Chinese, Internet retailers saw bras, smartphones and insurance, among other goods, fly off their virtual shelves in record-breaking numbers.
Websites under Jack Ma's Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. reported more than 35 billion yuan ($5.75 billion) in sales on Nov. 11, and plenty of other retailers participated in the buying binge on the day that originated as a celebration for China’s growing bachelor ranks.
Last year on Singles Day, Tmall and Taobao, e-commerce sites under the Alibaba banner, sold more than $3 billion worth of goods – more than twice the value sold on Cyber Monday following Thanksgiving in the U.S. that year. This year saw that record go right out the window. Tmall, Alibaba’s business-to-consumer site, reached 100 million yuan in transactions just 68 seconds after Double 11 sales began in the wee hours of Monday in China, Caixin, a Chinese financial news portal, reported.
Alibaba inaugurated the shopping tradition in 2009, but other major e-retailers have since caught on. Jingdong Mall, which sells food and clothing, promised discounts and free delivery on everything. Suning, the appliance retailer, began its sales three days earlier. Companies prepare for the day weeks ahead of time by improving delivery and payment capacities, but even so, Suning’s system couldn’t handle the astronomical transaction flow it received in the first hour, which flow crashed its payment system.
Net users bought all sorts of items in the first minute. Tmall sold 1.6 million bras and 2 million pairs of underwear. Xiaomi Inc. sold 100 million yuan worth of its electronics in the first three minutes and tripled that number in the next 30 minutes, according to Tech in Asia.
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Buyers also made online investments. E Fund Management Co., which sells wealth management products on Taobao, completed 36 million yuan worth of transactions in the first 42 minutes, and 50 million yuan worth of insurance in the first 75 minutes.
Mobile sales became a big part of the shopping frenzy this year. More than 2 million shoppers made purchases on Tmall and Taobao using their mobile devices in the first minute alone, and within an hour, 1 billion yuan worth of transactions had been handled through those mobile sites, according to Caixin.