For the 10 annual shopping festival, Alibaba Group, whose businesses specialize in e-commerce, retail and artificial intelligence among others, utilized all of its ecosystems, giving carious promotions and discounts to attract online shoppers.
A massive screen at Alibaba's gala in Shanghai showed the surging sales numbers in real time: At 2 minutes and 5 seconds after midnight Saturday, 10 billion yuan ($1.43 billion) in purchases had already been made on Alibaba's platforms.
The event opened with a reported sale of over one-billion dollars in just two minutes.
We're talking about Singles' Day, which takes place this Sunday, November 11.
Beyond the bargains, Singles' Day holds another significance for Alibaba, which uses the event as a test bed for new technologies that it has been exploring, such as New Retail - the integration of online and offline commerce - as well as artificial intelligence and augmented reality.
Early sales figures are an indication that China's ongoing trade war with the United States has done little to dent domestic consumption so far.
It's been three years since Ma said he wants to make Singles' Day a global phenomenon.
The strong consumer spending provides some welcome news for economy watchers concerned about the impact of the trade war on overseas shipments. "And if we can do those two things, all of those people will be back to our platform ー next week, next month, next year", Evans said.
In the lead-up this year's event, there were concerns that Alibaba and other e-commerce sites like JD.com, which runs a similar sale, may be hit hard by new tariffs on U.S. goods.
In the hours leading up to the shopping event, Alibaba's video streaming platform Youku hosted a gala countdown to mark the festival.
"Singles Day is different now - it has more tricks than before", Ren said. The 24-hour shopping extravaganza takes place on November 11 and outsells Black Friday and Cyber Monday US sales combined.
Alibaba kicked off this year's sales with a gala event that featured USA singer Mariah Carey, a Japanese Beyonce impersonator and a shoe-shopping-themed Cirque du Soleil performance.
"For sure every year the number is getting bigger and bigger, and people are always asking Daniel what is the ceiling of this and can you still grow so fast", Zhang said.
Singles Day was chosen by Zhang to host the event because he thought it'd reduce feelings of being alone if lonely hearts can enjoy buying themselves great stuff online.