SAN FRANCISCO — The world’s biggest sale began at midnight Beijing time on Friday when Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba launched its Singles' Day shopping festival.
But perhaps more importantly, this year Smucker's is using the event to introduce China's more than 1.3 billion consumers to the joys of peanut butter and jelly.
Alibaba's online marketplace sale began at 11:00 a.m. EDT. It posted $1 billion in sales within the first five minutes, the company reported.
In the first hour, order volume reached a record-breaking 175,000 orders per second, according to Clavis Insight. Total sales in the first two hours passed $5 billion, with 84% of sales coming from mobile devices.
The company has hosted a sale on Nov. 11 for seven years now. Last year Alibaba (BABA) booked sales of $14.3 billion on Singles' Day.
This year, it's estimated the company could sell as much as $20 billion worth of goods, a 40% year-over-year increase over last year, according to New York-based research firm Fung Global Retail & Technology.
The sale is mainly aimed at shoppers in China and Asia. Close to 100,000 brands, 11,000 of them from outside China, will be selling orders on the site, said Alibaba.
It's also a big target for U.S. retailers looking to reach Chinese consumers. Last year the United States was the top seller of imported goods, Alibaba said. Overseas brands accounted for 10% of Singles' Day purchases in 2015.