Alibaba's Singles Day sales reach a new height

Sales on Alibaba's platforms broke last year's total with almost 11 hours of the Singles Day shopping gala to spare.

Gross merchandise volume of the day-long discount topped 120.7 billion yuan ($18.2 billion) as of 1:09 pm Saturday, according to Alibaba's data. This is equivalent to the value of all transactions processed via its Tmall, Taobao and other sister sites a year ago.

Alibaba's Singles Day sales reach a new height

Alibaba's Singles Day sales reach a new height

The packages sent to Shandong Normal University after the Singles day shopping festival 2017.

Amid fanfare and celebrity razzmatazz, the ninth annual Nov 11 promotion — the world's largest single-day shopping festival - had seen sales reach 10 billion yuan in just three minutes, halving the time needed to hit that mark in 2016.

Alibaba's extended tentacles into payment and logistics have managed to shore up that stellar growth by facilitating smooth transaction and prompt parcel delivery.

Its indigenous payment system Alipay processed 100 million transactions in seven minutes and 23 seconds after the event kicked off in early hours Saturday. Peak transaction volume reached 256,000 per second, doubling the top speed recorded from last year's event.

Meanwhile, the first parcel was delivered to the doorstep of a resident in Shanghai in just 12 minutes, according to statistics from logistics arm Cainiao, thanks to algorithms and big data it leveraged to predict sales and calculate the best routes.

Consultancy Oliver Wyman has predicted this year's sales to hit 152 billion yuan.