Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba on Saturday announced the sale of about $12 billion worth goods within two hours of launch of its 11.11 Global Shopping Festival.
"Nearly $11.9 billion worth of total Gross Merchandise Volume (GMV) (sales in dollar value of goods sold over a certain period) was generated within the first two hours of the shopping festival," Alibaba Group Holdings Limited said in a statement here.
The ninth edition of the much-anticipated 24-hour annual shopping festival began at midnight here on a gala note. Held on China's Singles' Day, the event is one of the largest online shopping festivals in the world.
Nearly 325,000 orders were processed per second by Alibaba Cloud (the cloud computing arm of Alibaba) within the first hour of the shopping extravaganza, the company said.
"Nearly 256,000 payment transactions per second were processed by Alipay (Alibaba's online payment platform) within the first hour," it added.
More than 60 leading international brands like Apple, Nike, Samsung, Zara, Gap among others sold over $15 million worth goods each within the first hour of the fest.
The festival will have promotions and offers from over 140,000 brands and 15 million product listings this year.
Started in 2009, the festival grossed about $18 billion during the 24-hour period in 2016, making the festival about 2.5 times bigger than Black Friday and Cyber Monday (two of the biggest shopping festivals in the US) put together.
The event aims to raise awareness on the value of online shopping among merchants and consumers.
For this year's festival, Alibaba has deployed a "new retail" strategy to bring together the online and offline shopping experiences.
The company has converted about 100,000 retail stores to "smart stores", which will allow consumers to receive customised shopping experience with the use of facial recognition, "cloud shelf" and location-based store and discount recommendations.
Alibaba has also introduced Hema Stores, wherein consumers can walk in to the offline store and scan each of the products present in the store through their mobile phones to know more information about it.
Logistics network Cainiao is expected to employ over three million logistics personnel to deliver over one billion packages brought during the shopping fest.
Alibaba's logistics partners would also launch chartered flight delivery services from over 10 countries in North America, Europe and Asia to expand the company's global reach.
(Bhavana Akella is in Shanghai at the invitation of Alibaba. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org).