Alibaba has made huge investments in technology platform of its e-commerce business to ensure that the 11.11.2018 shopping festival will be the largest-ever in terms of scale and reach.
The e-commerce sales festival — marking the 10th anniversary of 11.11. — will demonstrate Alibaba’s New Retail strategy – the convergence of online and offline retail through technology.
“The sales event showcases the development of the Alibaba ecosystem over time expanding well beyond e-commerce,” said Alibaba Group CEO Daniel Zhang.
The Chinese e-commerce giant upgraded the bot, including 24/7 automated customer support, added predictive analytics to forecast what users might ask next and scalability on servers during peak demand.
Alibaba said new bot can help merchants cut up to half of their previous call-center costs. Bot will converse naturally thanks to human-computer interaction technologies. The Alime Shop Assistant is now available to all merchants on Alibaba’s e-commerce platforms, free of charge.
About 600,000 online store owners on Alibaba’s e-commerce sites use Alime Shop Assistant to deal with customer inquiries during major sales campaigns, such as Alibaba’s annual 11.11 Global Shopping Festival.
Alibaba said Alime Shop Assistants had 100 million conversations with customers, leading to sales that made up 15 percent of the event’s record-shattering gross merchandise volume last year.
“We’re looking forward to this year’s 11.11, which will be marked by human-computer interaction at a scale like never before,” Wu Minzhi, chief customer officer at Alibaba, said.
Beauty brand L’Oreal Paris used the Alime Shop Assistant during June’s 6.18 promotional campaign covering 86 percent of inquiries received on its Tmall flagship store—up from 49 percent the previous month. L’Oreal Paris reduced the time customers have to wait for a reply to 45 seconds from 57 seconds, with a resolution rate of 63 percent of all inquiries.
“Alime Shop Assistant frees our merchants’ customer-service staff from having to answer simple, repetitive questions,” said Zhao Kun, head of the Intelligent Customer-Service unit at Alibaba.
Southeast Asian online retail giant Lazada’s AI-powered chatbot, which currently supports English, Indonesian, Vietnamese and Thai, has strengthened capacity for ordering, tracking and canceling parcels between different countries.
“Our customer-service AI will not only be deployed both online and offline, but our user base will extend to customers and merchants worldwide,” said Chen Haiqing, senior algorithm expert at the Intelligent Customer-Service unit.
Online retail sales in Chinese poor areas grew 52 percent last year to CNY120.8 billion or $17.3 billion last year. Over the past decade, China’s number of Internet users has risen to 802 million and 98 percent of them are mobile.
The first 11.11 in 2009 brought in $7.8 million in gross merchandise value (GMV). Total GMV generated in 2017 was $25.3 billion.
Alibaba will be selling 500,000 items for pre-order on Tmall from October 20. 180,000 brands from China and around the world will participate in the world’s largest annual shopping event.
200,000 smart stores in China across the apparel, fast-moving consumer goods, beauty products, automobile and home decor industries will help boost traffic to offline and online shopping destinations.
Tmall Global provides 3,700 categories of imported goods from 75 countries and regions on its platform.
Tmall World, AliExpress and Lazada will bring the event to overseas users. Lazada will host its first 11.11 Shopping Festival across six countries in Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, the Philippines and Vietnam.
Ele.me’s on-demand platform will provide delivery services for select Starbucks stores across 11 Chinese cities, including coverage in Beijing and Shanghai. 150,000 merchant partners of Koubei will offer half-price discounts on catering, beauty and hair salons and karaoke bars.
200,000 mom-and-pop stores powered by Alibaba’s Ling Shou Tong will provide online sales promotions, along with augmented reality-based red packets that offer discounts at 3,000 Tmall Corner Stores. Rural Taobao will bring coupons to its services in 800 counties across 29 provinces in China.
Hema supermarket will designate 11.11 signature stores featuring a number of promotions. RT-Mart will complete the makeover of its nearly 400 stores, equipping them with New Retail capabilities.
Tmall Collection’s Fashion Show will be broadcast live on ten platforms including Taobao, Youku, Weibo and Toutiao on October 20, starting at 6pm in China.
The 11.11 shopping festival began in 2009 with participation from 27 merchants as an event for merchants and consumers to raise awareness about online shopping. Last year, nearly 140,000 brands and merchants participated in the event, with consumers spending RMB168.2 billion or $25.3 billion during the 24-hour period.