That’s how much was generated in the first 90 minutes of China’s newly famed Singles’ Day. By way of comparison, the four day period of Black Friday through Cyber Monday in the US last year generated $6.6 billion in total.

Pioneered by Alibaba, “double eleven” was first established in 2009 to provide retail therapy to the millions of single, only-child youngsters facing pressure from their families to find love. Six years later, Australians more than 7,000 miles away are angered over shortages of baby formula that were purchased and sold online to Chinese shoppers.

Traditionally speaking, retail markets develop in a linear fashion as they transition from an emerging market to a mature one. But ecommerce has disrupted this notion. Throughout the six years I spent in China, consumerism transformed before my eyes. Ecommerce has been at the forefront of this change, facilitating demand that is growing faster than offline channels develop.

Commercial retail real estate infrastructure in lower tier cities greatly lags consumer needs. Even in Shanghai, new malls continue to be built in order to facilitate the newly acquired appetite for non-mainstream product. In the second half of 2013, three luxury malls opened within a 10 mile radius of my home in downtown Shanghai. In 2015, a fourth one was added to that list.

But Singles’ Day is now the annual reminder that even those four malls are not enough. As western concepts continue to penetrate the country and more Chinese travel abroad, consumers are exposed to new product they want to buy. The emergence and success of daigou (Chinese buying product abroad and shipping home to China) on Taobao demonstrates the yearning desire the Chinese have for product not physically available to them.

Today, the Chinese look to learn about and purchase product digitally and western brands are quickly learning that social media and ecommerce strategies are the ways forward to capturing the Chinese market.

This year’s $14.3 billion in Singles’ Day sales towered 60% over last year as a record number of international players, including Macy’s, Topshop, Sainsbury’s and Coach, joined in on the holiday. Whilst many western brands are flustered by China’s complexity, the figures achieved on this particular day speak for themselves in terms of opportunities in the market.

Kristin Graham