Ever since its early days as a student event in the 1990s, November 11 was called “Singles’ Day” in some parts of China; an occasion during which individuals would try and find a partner.
Now, Alibaba has dubbed it “Double 11” — a term the company has trademarked and transformed into the world’s largest shopping event. During this year’s Double 11, taking place on November 11, 2017, Alibaba sold $US25.3 billion worth of merchandise.
Created in 2009 as an “Anti-Valentine’s Day,” the “11-11 Global Shopping Festival” is now bigger than Black Friday and Cyber Monday, combined.
Encompassing a live-broadcast gala, virtual games, and an interactive fashion show, the 24-hour event has become a global extravaganza selling everything from American sneakers to South Korean washing machines and Argentinian shrimp.
Keep reading to see how this year’s event unfolded …
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Alibaba hosted a countdown gala in Shanghai that was broadcast live across China. The event was produced by David Hill, who previously worked on the Super Bowl and the Oscars.
The 4-hour gala was held at the Mercedes-Benz Arena. Nearby, a giant screen tracked sales in real time, which, at one point, reached up to 325,000 orders a second.
The giant screen tracking sales was displayed in front of staff. A large number of pre-orders helped Alibaba do $1 billion in sales in the first two minutes.
In this photo from 2016, staff can be seen tracking orders in front of the countdown screen. This year, more than 140,000 brands and merchants took part and nearly half were international brands.
Actress Nicole Kidman and tennis player Maria Sharapova attended the festivities. In previous years, Scarlett Johansson and Katy Perry turned up on stage.
This photo shows the counter screen at Alibaba's headquarters in 2013. The 11-11 shopping festival began in 2009 with participation from just 27 merchants.
All sorts of businesses take part in the shopping festival. This photo shows a worker preparing at a ceramics factory in the Hebei province.'
Staff at warehouses, logistics centres, and motorcycle delivery drivers are very busy during Singles' Day.
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