Chinese consumers are increasingly turning to smart speakers to shop online, instead of their phones. More than 1 million orders were placed and paid via Tmall Genie’s voice-shopping feature during Alibaba Group’s 11.11 Global Shopping Festival, the world’s largest one-day sale.
Alibaba A.I. Labs, the artificial-intelligence research unit behind the Tmall Genie smart speaker, said that millions of shoppers had used the Genie to purchase products – everything from snacks to toothbrushes and cleaning agents – at the mega sale, including 810,000 eggs, 1.4 million tons of rice and 76 tons of liquid detergent.
Placing an order is as simple as saying, “Tmall Genie, I want to buy some eggs.” The speaker then recommends products for users to choose from. Once they confirm the purchase and their shipping address, the Genie immediately processes the payment through the e-wallet Alipay, and users can see their order details and delivery status on Taobao and Tmall. Per Alibaba, more than 40% of Tmall Genie users have tried its voice-shopping feature so far.
“Tmall Genie has become an essential part of many families’ daily life,” said Miffy Chen, general manager of Alibaba A.I. Labs. “We hope the use of a virtual assistant will help people across age groups to embrace a digital life that is simple, fun, informed and connected.”
Controlling smart-home devices continues to be one of the most popular ways smart speakers are used in China. Tmall Genie has been connected to 235 million home appliances from 900 brands, including lights, heaters and air purifiers, the Labs said. But the Labs is looking to enhance other features of China’s most-popular smart speaker, exploring areas including in-car infotainment, food delivery, education and nursing support for the elderly – where voice assistants are expected to play an increasingly important role in the future, Chen said.
Chinese consumers can now use Tmall Genie to order coffee from Starbucks and have them delivered within 30 minutes. In April, the Labs also launched a voice-controlled smart mirror tailored to beauty consumers, which allows them to adjust its brightness to create flawless makeup looks. In the same month, it also released another iteration of the speaker with a seven-inch built-in monitor to stream video content and make video calls.
More than 3 million Tmall Genie units were sold in the third quarter of 2019, making it the most-purchased smart speaker brand in China for three consecutive quarters, per an October report released by market research company Euromonitor International.