Live Shopping, Smart Customer Service Chatbot, Smart Logistics … These are just a few examples of key success factors for Alibaba’s Singles Day bid. Behind the scene, understanding, innovations and product value passed on to customers are most essential!
From our previous article entitled “Zooming in on Alibaba’s Singles’ Day (Episode 1)”, let’s go on to Episode 2 focusing on decoding Alibaba’s strategies. –
Creating a viable digital marketplace that betters the lives of all is a business model that goes beyond understanding consumption behavior. It grasps underlying customer needs, often inconspicous ones. On the peripheral of a grand plateform, sales target was not the main aim in silo on Singles Day, as it turns out. A profitable day indeed, all the same, Alibaba was experimenting in attempt to understand its customers: “what are their lifestyles and how does their consumption pattern evolve?”. And for that matter, not only did Alibaba have a good grip on basic triggers prior to the festivity, it also created an exciting demand for it, too.
Alibaba’s ‘Live Shopping’ derives from its use of technology to enhance its customers’ shopping experience. Customers can shop live from the catwalk during big fashion events where famous brands show off their new collections through models filing past the audience on the catwalk while the audience can click their mobile phones to cheer, give opinions and/or buy live what they see. Alibaba simultaneously plans to invest in technology that will help expand e-commerce on the part of real stores and shops.
To further and better meet its customers’ needs, Alibaba has embarked on the use of robot keepers that act like experts in the area of customer service as they collect data on customer needs which are converted to computer language that updates and enhances Alibaba’s customer service system which, in this context, is quite interesting.
To enable marketplace shops to optimize and cope with increased customer segments and, in turn, demand for answers about purchased items, follow-up actions or complaints, Alibaba has come up with the Smart Customer Service Chatbot System whereby resourceful AI programs mascaraed online bots to directly engage with human inquiries. Thanks to Alibaba, retailer of old and new world alike can now easily up their game to a system that better capitalizes on digital capacity, thus customer service proficiency, via employing a text-only chatbot named Dian Xiaomi, or Store Assistant, a brainchild of Ali Xiaomi developed in 2015. Alibaba will make the application available to all bright-eyed retailers operating on its online marketplaces.
Dian Xiaomi, an innovation featuring the natural-language processing and AI deep-learning technology, can answer product-related inquiries.e.g., introduce customized products with the help of data analysis of each individual customer, introduce special promotions as well as discounts and efficiently handle returned goods. AI’s deep-learning ability under the umbrella of Big Data enables the chatbot to translate messages and information with quick response to over a million orders of customer requests and correspond via message, graphics and even emoji icons and chat stickers. Moreover, shops can provide specially tailored answers, complicated words/terms with the ability to coordinate queries to other chatbots or redirect unprecedented scenarios to human customer service staff as needed, instantly. Alibaba is not charging a fee for utilizing the intuitive chatbot application at the time. The Dian Xiaomi chatbot is expected to significantly reduce human error and neglect thus human resource and service center related budget and training, while on the other hand, optimize legacy processes with a digitized operational system.
With an optimized storefront, Alibaba has a compelling story to tell from the back office.
Alibaba manages logistics in miraculous ways, which has in turn earned it Smart Logistics credentials both for systematized standard operating procedures and the technology that makes it possible. Total shipment reached 777 million pieces on Singles Day. From the second the first order was placed, it took a mere 12.18 minutes for the product to arrive on the customer’s doorstep in the China homeland, while the first overseas customer saw their product arrive after 33.15 minutes. Astonishing as it seems, the delivery guy came knocking before they could say when.
Cainiao, or the China smart logistics network founded by Alibaba in 2013 under a logistics platform development for e-commerce fund in an effort to optimize infrastructure for online retail from manufacturers to businesses and end users alike. The ultimate goal is to handle all shipments within China under 24 hours and under 72 hours for any other destination around the globe. At present, it transports up to 25 million items in China a day and expected to be able to handle a staggering 200 million pieces within a single day somewhere in the next ten years. Word has it, notwithstanding, Cainiao hired 3 million staff to complete all Singles Day shipping in a single day, alone. The upside of keeping wages low.
While “Warehouse Management” has introduced the Zhu Que Clever Delivery Robot, or AI robots to replace humans in transport work, warehouse automation has increased productivity by threefold while reducing labor costs by up to 70%, and likewise for reduced human errors and accurate along the same lines. Alibaba employees AI to process data of over 500 million customer. Highly expected items with regards to popularity and predictable order volume are proactively stocked at strategic warehouses and distribution centers, accordingly. Thus, the unbelievable turnaround time when an actual order comes in. The entire system can process over 325,000 transactions per second while monitoring and tracking activity in real-time via Alibaba Cloud services. A testament to yet another Alibaba capacity and highly anticipated service in the close future, as well. Two birds with a Singles bullet.
Key Learnings: Many
The first key learning from Singles Day festivity is that good things happen for Customer Centric operators. Alibaba’s focus is primarily on the customer’s apparent need. As manifestation typically doesn’t take shape before introduction, to Alibaba’s credit for the intuitive vision to develop the infrastructure that facilitates online trading today. When the customer’s perspective becomes second nature, business opportunities ensue.
The next key takeaway is the importance of technology. In the era of digitization, technology is no longer an accessary. It defines the very founding structure and standard operating procedures the organization depends upon for core competency efficiency. It automates big data analysis and crucial market patterns that leads to innovation. As a key measure to advance core competencies, the best inventors in business dedicate significant tiime and resources to identify the fringes along legacy edges where the existing state of affairs no longer offer a meaningful answer to customers in the dawn of a new capacity. Technology, nonetheless, is a mere expensive appliance in incapable hands and the business alike. Economy of Scale is important for any business vast committed resourcse. Economy of Speed, on the other hand, is equally important if not more for organizations that rely heavily on the logistics of things to satisfy ever-changing customer needs. “You snooze you lose”. Customers lost over a lack of speed is an opportunity cost that keeps expanding. Last but not least: “focus focus focus”. Set a clear objective, plan key strategies, communicate loud, clearly and consistently what needs to happen and why every organization member is so important in the process, are all crucial components to adapting with change.
Take home message: small things matter but not as much as the big things. Singles Day wouldn’t be nearly exciting without Alibaba’s widely popular online platform. The classic soundbite “a lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them” goes without saying that what really matters is the underlying needs. That’s where game changing business models await. And you can’t get there without a customer centric map. Most important of all, thus, is fostering a customer centric culture. Get engaged with your patrons. Ask them invaluable questions and offer something nice in return, something that makes life easier for everyone, first.
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Reference and photos forbes.com, technologyreview.com, theverge.com, technology.inquirer.net, techcrunch.com, ndtv.com, alrasub.com, alizila.com marketing-interactive.com, pexels.com