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Alibaba.com to Add Instant Help Feature to AI-Powered Smart Assistant

Alibaba.com will soon add an Instant Help feature to its artificial intelligence (AI) global sourcing tool called Smart Assistant.

The new Instant Help feature will leverage an AI-powered chatbot to answer buyers’ basic questions and provide real-time insights and resources, the global B2B eCommerce platform said in a Tuesday (Jan. 9) press release.

This feature will provide information about a variety of verticals and product types, help buyers elevate their communications with suppliers, and help small businesses “purchase smart,” according to the release.

“With advances in AI, we are ushering in the next generation of sourcing and empowering small businesses to succeed with our Smart Assistant at their side,” Chris Lu, general manager at Alibaba.com North America, said in the release.

The new Instant Help will join the first two features of the Smart Assistant that were launched in September: Upgraded Image Search and Smart Request for Quotation (RFQ), according to the release.

Buyers using the Upgraded Image Search feature have achieved a deal closing rate that is 28% higher than that of buyers using only traditional text search, the release said.

Those using Smart RFQ saw 29% more quotes from suppliers, per the release.

“Developed from buyer-supplier feedback and embedded with profound industry knowledge, we are excited to demonstrate how the Smart Assistant rapidly and accurately produces product requests and images aligning with buyer needs,” Lu said in the release. “Smart Assistant helps buyers embrace their creativity, improve the efficiency of matching buyers and sellers, while making sourcing more accessible for all.”

Alibaba.com added a suite of new features, products and upgrades to its global B2B eCommerce platform in September, saying it wanted to help small business owners level up their sourcing and supply chain operations.

These included the smart assistant that helps users track orders and discover new opportunities, the upgraded image search that lets users search for products using both images and text at the same time, and predictive sentence completion and image generation that facilitate the RFQ process.

Alibaba Group CEO Eddie Wu said in September that the company must adjust its approach and become AI-first as it faces increasing competition in the eCommerce industry.

Wu said in a memo to staff that the disruptions brought about by AI will be “the most significant change agent” in the next 10 years across all sectors, Bloomberg reported at the time.