China Focus: Internet conference sheds light on intelligent retail services

Source: Xinhua| 2019-10-23 19:31:05|Editor: ZX
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HANGZHOU, Oct. 23 (Xinhua) -- Ringing up an automobile dealership in China to ask about a new car will put you in touch with a lady speaking standard Mandarin, without the slightest hint that the lady is a robot.

During the World Internet Conference (WIC) that just closed in the river town of Wuzhen in east China's Zhejiang Province, exhibitors showcased how they use big data and artificial intelligence (AI) to help increase retail sales.

Among them, Souche, one of China's internet platforms offering services for the automobile industry, has developed a voice-interacting robot for car sellers, which can assist them to introduce the function of a car and offer after-sales and financing services.

"AI is now solving problems for all kinds of industries such as automobile and cosmetics, but at a superficial level," said Yao Junhong, CEO of Souche. "We have striven to tap the potential of AI for our use."

In 2018, China's big data market scale reached 540.5 billion yuan (about 76.4 billion U.S. dollars), up 15 percent year on year, according to the report on China's internet development released Sunday during the WIC.

China's retail landscape is evolving as many companies are incorporating the internet and AI technologies into their business, making the utilization and development of these technologies more practical and pertinent in vertical fields.

Yonyou, another exhibitor that provides retail solutions for enterprises, is committed to digitalizing stores, including Daoxiangcun, a renowned bakery in Beijing.

Daoxiangcun is using their AI services such as facial recognition and big data analysis in some of its brick-and-mortar stores to distinguish new customers from returning ones, so that it can target those two groups with different sales strategies, according to Zhang Shuo, digital marketing manager of Yonyou.

Freshippo, an online-to-offline e-commerce fresh food company backed by China's internet giant Alibaba, stands out in the retail market as a big data player as well.

"Freshippo takes full advantage of big data. With the consumption data from Taobao, Alibaba's online retailing platform, we know what products and flavors our customers prefer, which can help us choose the products we sell and give feedback to food manufacturing enterprises to improve their product lines," said Liu Yichuan, with the company's public relations department.

Chen Xiaodong, CEO of Intime Department Store, said retail of department stores will also see changes in the coming years, including the integration of online and offline purchases, the Internet of Things and mass customization with flexibility based on collected information of consumers' needs.

As technology giants and start-ups are arming themselves with technologies to develop their business, China's retail landscape is evolving, with its big data industry and digital economy ushering in a new era.

According to Gao Xingfu, vice governor of Zhejiang Province, more than 600 enterprises participated in the "Light of Internet Expo," a side event of the WIC. These included 107 overseas companies and organizations, up 30 percent over the previous year.