The world’s biggest online sale event, the Singles Day Sale, on Chinese online retail major Alibaba Group reaped $14.3 billion in sales. While the site is nowhere near as ubiquitous as the American-based Amazon or eBay, in China Alibaba dwarves its American counterparts when it comes to one-day online sales. The biggest ever one-day sale in the United States netted $2.04 billion on Cyber Monday, 1 December, 2014.
Held on 11 November each year since 2009, the Singles Day sales, draws its name from the ‘bare sticks’ represented by the four number ones in the date. This year’s sale marked a 54 percent increase from the $9.3 billion the online site netted in 2014.
Shoppers are reported to have spent over $1 billion in the first eight minutes of the sale opening, with sales exceeding RM100 million ($15.7 million) in just 18 seconds. The peak number of people online at one time during this year’s Singles Day was 45 million.
According to the company more than half, or 69 percent, of total sales or gross merchandise volume (GMV) were made on mobile devices like smartphones, compared to 42.6 percent last year. Mobile business’ strong growth is more good news for Alibaba, as the company has heavy investments in mobile.
Its mobile business’ strong growth is an important coup for Alibaba because the company has invested heavily in mobile. Back in January, after Alibaba issued disappointing earnings for the last quarter of 2014, chief financial officer Maggie Wu admitted that Alibaba’s focus on mobile had resulted in “near-term growing pains.”
Alibaba’s investments, however, began to pay off by the next quarter. By the second fiscal quarter of 2015 mobile accounted for 62 percent of total GMV for the first time, which meant that more shoppers were using smartphones instead of PCs to complete purchases. Focusing on mobile is crucial for Alibaba because most of China’s Internet users, or 88.9 percent, now go online through their smartphones, compared to just 42.5 percent on laptops and 68.4 percent on desktop PCs.