E-shop­pers em­brace smart apps

In­tel­li­gent soft­ware helps cus­tom­ize prod­uct rec­om­men­da­tions and sales

China Daily (Latin America Weekly) - - Business - By HE WEI in Shang­hai hewei@chi­nadaily.com.cn

pre­dict what con­sumers want, the sys­tem gen­er­ates rec­om­men­da­tions for not only prod­ucts they have shown an in­ter­est in but re­lated prod­ucts and other in­for­ma­tion.

“Alibaba’s Brain can home in on a con­sumer’s predilec­tions for cer­tain prod­ucts, price ranges, brands, prod­uct spec­i­fi­ca­tions and other key pa­ram­e­ters,” said Zhao Bin­qiang, an al­go­rithm ex­pert at Alibaba who now leads the firm’s dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing unit.

The soft­ware works in tan­dem with Alibaba’s vast social me­dia net­works. Al­go­rithms al­low the sys­tem to de­ter­mine cor­re­la­tions between con­tent con­sump­tion and pur­chas­ing be­hav­ior.

For ex­am­ple, if a mother has pur­chased di­a­pers via Alibaba’s Taobao site, she is likely to re­ceive ma­ter­nity and child-care re­lated con­tent from Weitao, a mi­cro-blog­ging ser­vice for brands, or from Taobao Head­lines, a sis­ter news­feed. Via such on­line des­ti­na­tions, she might re­ceive spon­sored con­tent on prod­ucts such as in­fant for­mula or sup­ple­ments.

Alibaba also in­tro­duced an AI-pow­ered elec­tronic as­sis­tant or chat­bot called Ali Xiaomi (Ali As­sis­tant) to han­dle up to 95 per­cent of gen­eral in­quiries rang­ing from re­funds to com­plaints.

Ac­cord­ing to Alibaba, the chat­bot, when pro­vided with a text or voice de­scrip­tion or even a photo, can even help users find prod­ucts, re­turn­ing a list of rec­om­men­da­tions that they could fil­ter by brand, color and other char­ac­ter­is­tics.

A Gold­man Sachs report ear­lier this year said, “Big data, cloud ser­vices and the com­ing of age of ma­chine learn­ing tech­nol­ogy should con­tinue to de­liver a per­son­al­ized shop­ping ex­pe­ri­ence to con­sumers and tar­geted mar­ket­ing so­lu­tions to brands and mer­chants.”

LI ZHONG / FOR CHINA DAILY

A fish-eye view of cus­tomers ex­pe­ri­enc­ing ‘New Re­tail’ hall of Tmall in Hangzhou in Oc­to­ber.

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