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Alibaba breaks sales record on China's 'Singles Day'

China's e-commerce giant pulls in $9.3 billion on the world's biggest online shopping day -- a sign of Alibaba's sales clout.

Donna Tam Staff Writer / News
Donna Tam covers Amazon and other fun stuff for CNET News. She is a San Francisco native who enjoys feasting, merrymaking, checking her Gmail and reading her Kindle.
Donna Tam
2 min read

Alibaba's success onSingles Day could encourage more western consumer brands to take notice of the Chinese shopping holiday. ChinaFotoPress /Getty Images

Alibaba knows how to pull off a sale.

China's biggest e-commerce site reported $9.3 billion in revenue on Tuesday during the Chinese celebration of Singles Day, a 62 percent surge from last year's previous record of $5.75 billion.

Observed on November 11 -- or "11.11," for the date with the most 1s -- Singles Day has become the world's biggest online shopping day, thanks to the marketing smarts of China's Alibaba Group. Every years Alibaba offers discounts promotions on its 11.11 Shopping Festival to encourage China's unattached to treat themselves something nice. The latest sales figures, which outdistance market researcher IDC's $8.18 billion estimate, highlight US retailers' growing interest in the Chinese market.

"China is an extremely attractive market for US brands, as there is a growing middle and upper class with dollars to spend on US products," said Marlene Morris Towns, a marketing professor at Georgetown University's McDonough School of Business. "In addition, the younger population...[which] increasingly identifies with Western culture, brands, celebrity styles and entertainment" are ripe targets for US brands and retailers, she said.

More than 27,000 companies took part in Alibaba's Singles Day promotions, including high-end Western brands American Eagle Outfitters, ASOS, Blue Nile, Calvin Klein, Desigual, Juicy Couture and The North Face.

Alibaba aims to make Singles Day a global event within the next three to four years, said JP Morgan analyst Alex Yao. This year alone, its shopping sites drew buyers from 217 countries. But Alibaba does face some challenges -- including delivering all those orders within a reasonable time, said Yao.

When it comes to online shopping, instant gratification can take too long.