The company settled about 69 billion yuan in the first hour of Singles' Day, up about 21 percent from last year's early haul of 57 billion yuan.
Now in its 10th year, the clamor for deals and discounts known as Singles Day was heralded with characteristic fanfare by Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, which has turned an unofficial holiday for people without romantic partners into a yearly windfall for digital retailers.
The event opened with a reported sale of over one-billion dollars in just two minutes.
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After a record-breaking Singles Day in 2017, Alibaba is preparing for bigger crowds and bigger sales come November 11.
Early sales figures are an indication that China's ongoing trade war with the United States has done little to dent domestic consumption so far.
Singles' Day was the brainchild of Mr Ma and Mr Zhang, who came up with the idea of the shopfest a decade ago.
"That trend is not going to stop, trade war or no trade war".
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In the lead-up this year's event, there were concerns that Alibaba and other e-commerce sites like JD.com, which runs a similar sale, may be hit hard by new tariffs on US goods. While most businesses benefit from the holiday in China now, the biggest beneficiary of Singles' Day is Alibaba.
The chief executive, Mr Zhang, who takes over from a retiring Mr Ma as chairman next year, must prove he can carry on that legacy.
The 10th edition of the Global Shopping Festival 11.11, which is also called "Double 11" event as it falls on November 11, kicked off on Saturday midnight providing huge discounts on goods ranging from diapers to mobile phones.
Analysts say that despite continued strong growth, sales are likely to be hit by economic headwinds and new competition from competing sales events.
The gala featured a number of celebrity appearances including model Miranda Kerr, Mariah Carey and Cirque du Soleil performers.
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"Chinese consumers, especially the millennials, are incredibly confident about their futures, and that tends to enable spending, when you feel like you're going to make more next year than this year", said Jeffrey Towson, a professor of investment at Peking University Guanghua School of Management.