Alibaba finds it’s voice.
The Chinese e-commerce giant has released a new Voice First system called Tmall Genie named after the company’s e-commerce platform Tmall.
The online marketplace is rolling out a home speaker system enabled with virtual assistant technology, similar to Amazon’s Echo and Alexa but much less expensive than its western counterparts at only $73 compared to Amazon and Google which range from $120 to $180. The device will allow shoppers to purchase items from Alibaba’s Tmall marketplace. For now the device isn’t a threat to Amazon and Google’s AI assistants as it only speaks mandarin and is only available in China. The new system has developer tools similar to Amazon’s Echo and Alexa.
So why is this so important for retail?
Alibaba has been investing heavily in omnichannel retail with offline stores and big data capabilities as it looks to move from an online pure-play and dominate across multiple channels, much like omnichannel retail expert Amazon.
Alibaba’s move into voice first is on the same grounds as Amazon but the Tmall Genie is a step ahead in technology with the first VoicePrint identification system. Meaning it is able to confirm the identify of users as an added security measure. We also previously reported Apple will also be diving into home assistants with its HomePod, based on siri. The tech company previously acquired PrimeSense an Israeli 3D sensor company and will integrating the technology into the device.
China is bringing their best to combat Silicon Valley natives, because the new age of retail means also being a technology company. With 450 million active shoppers who use Alibaba to purchase everything from technology to groceries surely Alibaba poses a future threat to amazon and google as leaders in omnichannel retail?
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