Double 11 (aka Singles’ Day), the world’s largest shopping festival, is entering its 15th year. We expect to see a combination of old and new.
The Good Old Discounts Are Back
To consumers, the thrill of Double 11 lies in deep discounts and low prices. Under the backdrop of slower economic growth, the two major e-commerce players, Alibaba (Taobao and Tmall Group) and JD.com, will refocus their Double 11 strategies on low prices this year. Alibaba features over 80 million products on offer at their lowest price of the year to serve consumers looking for value-for-money products while JD.com bets on “genuine low prices” with 30-day price guarantees (getting a refund of price differences) covering over 800 million products that are available for immediate purchase (discarding the traditional pre-sales period that required consumers to pay a deposit up front). The low-price strategy shows that big players are under the pressure of increasing competition from new players such as Pinduoduo and Douyin (Chinese version of TikTok). It also aligns with the consumer trend we predicted, that consumers won’t stop spending but will expect to maximize economic value.
It won’t be a simple price war, however. The low-price strategy is backed by increasing work efficiency and lowering operational costs supported by advanced technologies such as generative AI.
Showcase The New Generative AI Capabilities For E-Commerce
Although it’s still at an early stage, e-commerce players are keen to showcase their generative AI capabilities on Double 11. We expect to see a few key use cases:
- Generative AI content creation to increase efficiency. This includes copy, images, and videos. Built on its own large language model (LLM), ChatRhino (Yanxi in Chinese), JD.com’s AI-generated content marketing platform can generate a wide range of e-commerce visuals such as marketing posters and product images, reducing the cost of each visual set by 90% and cutting production time down from seven days to just half a day. Similarly, Taobao and Tmall introduced an AI creative production platform “Wanxiang Lab” that helps merchants generate product images for different purposes in just 30 seconds. To kick off Double 11 this year, Tmall launched a video created by generative AI (and humans) that features virtual parade floats from 50 brands including McDonald’s, Coke, Luckin Coffee, and Bulgari.
- Generative AI enabling virtual hosts to lower both risks and costs. Livestreaming continues to be a popular e-commerce format. Last year, we predicted that more brands will use virtual hosts to save costs and lower risks such as celebrity scandals. The trend carries on this year with a generative AI boost. During the “June 18” shopping gala this year, JD.com’s Yanxi virtual host contributed to a 246% increase in merchants’ transaction volume compared to last year’s Singles’ Day promotion.
- Generative AI empowering chatbots to improve shopping experiences. Built on Alibaba’s own LLM Tongyi Qianwen, the chatbot “Taobao Wenwen” provides more precise product recommendations in multiple formats including texts, images, product links, and short videos when shoppers ask questions in natural language. The chatbot can also help shoppers describe their needs more accurately. Taobao Wenwen is not emotionally intelligent yet, and the output results still have room for improvement. Only 5 million people have used the beta version so far, and a lot more training will be required to perfect the tool. But it can still act as a useful shopping assistant during Double 11, as its special Double 11 mode will be on and combines product information with tips on the best discounts.