China’s Singles Day last year surpassed Black Friday as the world’s largest shopping day, and it’s showing no sign of slowing down.
The 24-hour shopping spree was launched in 2009 by e-commerce giant Alibaba’s TMall platform. Since then, Singles Day has marked the biggest annual battle among e-commerce companies in China.
By the end of Singles Day 2015, Alibaba’s total gross merchandise revenue (GMR) reached $14.3 billion or a 53.7 percent increase from last year. In 2009, it didn’t even reach the $1 billion mark.
This year, Alibaba took it up a notch by hosting a star-studded Singles Day Eve TV show.
The event brought together China’s top pop stars as well as foreign celebrities including “007”’s Daniel Craig and Kevin Spacey who appeared as President Underwood from the hit series “House of Cards.”
The move seemed to get people engaged. Within the first hour and a half of Singles Day 2015, Alibaba’s GMV reached $5 billion – a feat that took the company 13 hours to reach last year.
A key priority for Alibaba in 2015 was bringing more international brands to Chinese consumers.
The Alibaba Group claims that its platforms attract more than 40,000 merchants and 30,000 brands such as Macy’s and Apple from 25 countries.
Its biggest competitor JD.com also pushed to bring more products overseas.
“We’re seeing great demand from Chinese customers for global products,” said JD Worldwide Director Tony Qiu during an interview with Forbes. He also noted he “expects a lot of traction” from its recently launched cross-border service, which has seen more growth that any other unit in its business.
He added Chinese consumers are interested in products from the United States, Europe, Japan, and South Korea.