Chinese e-commerce company Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. (NASDAQ: BABA) has its own holiday, much the way that Amazon.com Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN) does. Alibaba’s is called “National Singles Day.” Sales for the holiday crossed $24 billion at 4 p.m. local time in China, and this surpassed the figure for the entire Single’s day in 2017. That leaves eight hours to go before the final record for the day is posted.
Amazon’s e-commerce revenue in the most recent quarter was $49 billion, a sign of just how huge Alibaba’s business is. Amazon’s Prime Day, which is its equivalent to National Singles Day, is a 36-hour event. Analysts believe its sales for that period were between $4.0 billion and $4.5 billion. It is the largest Amazon e-commerce sales day, with the possible exception of Black Friday.
Alibaba keeps the world posted on Singles Day sales via a live blog, Twitter and Facebook. The posts on these occur almost every hour as record after record falls.
Alibaba set another record at about 5 p.m. local time. Delivery orders reached 812 million, another 24-hour milestone it reached in the entire day last year.
Alibaba used the record to highlight some of its other businesses. Among those used to post the day’s revenue and orders were Alibaba Cloud and Cainiao. Much of this technology competes with Amazon Web Services, which holds about 40% of cloud revenue worldwide. Alibaba promoted its strength in the Internet of Things, artificial intelligence, encryption, blockchain expertise and GPS capacity. Most analysts believe that, because of its scale in China and Alibaba’s product development and huge balance sheet, it will be as much of a challenge to Amazon as any U.S.-based tech company. Google is usually accepted as the number two in the business behind Amazon.
As it posted its two records, management said: “Behind the eye-popping numbers generated by 11.11, there’s a lot of sophisticated technology to ensure customers get exactly what they ordered and know when it will arrive.” 11.11 is a reference to the date.
The extraordinary sales for the day show that Alibaba dwarfs Amazon in e-commerce and means to take the American company on in global cloud competition.