Alibaba kicks off 11.11 shopping festival

China's online marketplace Alibaba (NYSE:BABA) is gearing up for its annual 11.11 shopping festival, also referred to as Singles' Day. Started back in 2009, Alibaba Group's 11.11 Global Shopping Celebration now generates more sales than Black Friday and Cyber Monday combined.

In 2014, Alibaba's network of online retailers made about $8.17 billion in sales in 24 hours. That number was significantly larger than the $5.75 billion made on Singles' Day in 2013. The giant shopping day—similar to Cyber Monday—got its name in China because the date Nov. 11 has four singles (11/11) resembling the "bare branches," which is what the country calls unattached people.

This year's theme for the event will be globalization and off-line-to-online (O2O) commerce. The event will kick off on Nov. 10 with a gala attended by celebrities.

"This year's 11.11 focus will be on both globalization and O2O, as these are the core to our overall corporate strategy. In addition, this is the first time ever that Alibaba Group will have an 11.11 countdown event to promote the sales day to celebrate the potential for limitless innovation that technology has provided for all of us," said Alibaba Group CEO Daniel Zhang.

About 100,000 brick-and-mortar stores in China wil have O2O agreements with Alibaba by the 11.11 date, giving customers access to the festival both in-store and through e-commerce.

"Globalization is a critical priority for Alibaba Group's strategy in 2015, as evidenced by the very encouraging growth in the number of international agreements and activities over the past several months," Zhang said.

Back in 2009, 11.11 began with just 27 retail participants. Last year, more than 27,000 brands and merchants participated in the retail event, generating 278 million orders. Consumers from more than 217 countries were able to select from more than one million products through e-commerce and mobile.

Alibaba currently has 367 million active users.

For more:
-See this Alibaba press release

Related stories:
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Alibaba partners with Alipay to help US brands reach Chinese shoppers
Alibaba predicted to hit $8B in sales on Singles' Day
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Big-box chains' efforts to conquer China hit a wall

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