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Alibaba introduces AI software to boost international trade

Alibaba.com introduces an AI tool to automate client-facing operations for merchants, aiming to boost international business and compete in a rapidly evolving market.

Alibaba.com, the global business-to-business wholesale platform of Alibaba Group Holding, is set to launch a novel artificial intelligence (AI) tool. This tool aims to revolutionise the platform's merchant operations by automating client interactions, including email communications. The goal is to attract a broader international clientele. The AI-enhanced OKKI, a customer relationship management -as-a-service (SaaS) under Alibaba Cloud, will be accessible to foreign trade merchants starting Friday.

This initiative follows a promising trial where merchants experienced a 32% increase in response rates from international clients when using OKKI to refine their business emails.

Alibaba Cloud's role in AI development

Alibaba Cloud, the digital technology branch of the South China Morning Post's owner, Alibaba, delivers various software and digital resources via the Internet. Comparable to how electricity is supplied, these services are available on demand. This division is at the forefront of Alibaba's AI initiatives.

The latest AI tool for merchants on its international wholesale platform reflects Alibaba's intensified focus on AI and enterprise users. This strategic direction was highlighted in a recent internal letter from new group chief executive Eddie Wu Yongming. Last October, Alibaba Cloud introduced new AI tools tailored for different industries, built on its large language model Tongyi Qianwen. These tools are designed to help businesses fully leverage the power of generative AI, similar to the technology behind ChatGPT.

Alibaba's response to international competition

The launch of this AI-enabled SaaS offering for Alibaba.com merchants comes amidst rising competition in key overseas markets. Rivals include Temu, the US-based discount shopping platform introduced by PDD Holdings last September. Alibaba International Digital Commerce (AIDC), the business group operating marketplaces such as Lazada, AliExpress, and Alibaba.com, has become one of the e-commerce giant's most rapidly growing segments, especially as domestic retail sales slow down.

Alibaba's commitment to AI and global trade

Alibaba.com, renowned as a leading e-commerce platform for global trade, hosts over 200,000 merchants. These merchants offer products made in China to markets worldwide. In the recent quarter, AIDC reported a 28% year-on-year growth in combined order volume, backed by robust performance across all major retail platforms. This group's revenue soared by 53% from the previous year during the same period.

Despite this success, the dramatic rise of Temu, with its aggressive pricing strategy, has significantly impacted the market. Temu's expansion to over 40 countries since its US launch has caused a notable increase in PDD's revenue and a surge in its stock value. Alibaba founder Jack Ma has commended PDD's “decisions, execution, and efforts” on an internal website.

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Nurin Sofia
Nurin Sofia
Nurin Sofia is a news editor at Tech Edition. Her interest is in technology and startups, occasionally crunching news for gaming. Sofia enjoys playing video games, going on bike rides, and gardening when she isn't behind a keyboard.

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