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Chinese consumers embraced voice ordering on Singles Day

More than 1 million orders were placed and processed through voice command via Alibaba’s Tmall Genie during its 11.11 Global Shopping Festival on Monday.

The smart speaker was used to purchase items throughout the day – including 810,000 eggs, 1.4 million tons of rice and 76 tons of liquid detergent – showing that voice shopping has become an increasingly popular trend among Chinese consumers of all ages.

According to Alibaba’s statistics, more than 40 per cent of Tmall Genie users have tried voice shopping. The rise of voice shopping shows the growing popularity of smart speakers in China. Alibaba’s intelligent speech assistant, Tmall Genie, is ranked as the number one brand in terms of sales volume of smart speakers in the first three quarters of China, according to Euromonitor International’s research conducted in October.

“As the number one smart speaker in China, Tmall Genie has become an essential part of many families’ daily life,” said Alibaba A.I.Labs GM Miffy Chen. “As we continue to enhance the product features and increase the offering of infotainment services – from entertainment and news to children’s books, food delivery and elderly care – 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.”

Some 10.47 million Tmall Genie units were sold during the first nine months of this year, accounting for a 38-per-cent market share in China, where sales of smart speakers reached 27.56 million units in the same period, according to Euromonitor International.

In particular, Tmall Genie recorded more than 3 million sales units in this year’s third financial quarter, making it the most popularly purchased smart speaker brand in China for three consecutive quarters.

“Since the launch of the first smart speaker in China in July 2017, Alibaba has made Tmall Genie the top brand with the largest sales volume in China this year,” noted Euromonitor International in the research. “That is largely due to Tmall Genie’s product differentiation strategy and its expanding sales channels both online and offline,”.

According to the research, Alibaba, Xiaomi and Baidu are the top three smart speaker brands in China, with a total market share of 93 per cent in terms of sales volume in the first three quarters this year. 77 per cent of smart speakers were purchased online during that period, dominated by Alibaba’s e-commerce platforms – Tmall and Taobao.

The research also pointed out that as an important medium for human-machine interaction, smart speakers are expected to be equipped with a growing number of features tailored to consumers’ daily needs, including search and information queries. A smart speaker with a screen – which can offer both speech and visual interaction – is also believed to be a forthcoming trend among major brands, Euromonitor noted.

Controlling smart home appliances through voice commands is still one of the most popular uses of smart speakers. Alibaba statistics show that currently, Tmall Genie has been connected to more than 235 million home appliances such as lights and air-conditioning from 900 brands in China.

Alibaba believes that voice assistants are expected to play an increasingly important role in a wide spectrum of applications, including in-car infotainment experience, food delivery, beauty and makeup, childrens’ education and elderly nursing support.

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