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Alibaba pushes new AI software tool to help merchants on its wholesale platform manage overseas clients, polish business emails

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Alibaba.com, the international business-to-business wholesale marketplace of Alibaba Group Holding, expects the roll-out of a new artificial intelligence (AI) tool to help the platform’s merchants automate their client-facing operations, including writing emails, to entice more customers overseas.
An AI-upgraded version of OKKI, the customer relationship management software-as-a-service (SaaS) offering under Alibaba Cloud, will be available to foreign trade merchants from Friday, according to Alibaba.com.

It said the response rate of these merchants’ overseas clients improved by 32 per cent when their business correspondence was polished by OKKI.

Alibaba Cloud, the digital technology unit of South China Morning Post owner Alibaba, distributes over the internet a range of software and other digital resources as an on-demand service, just like electricity from a power grid. This Alibaba unit is leading the e-commerce giant’s AI development efforts.
Attendees of Alibaba Cloud’s annual Apsara Conference check out the company’s latest artificial intelligence innovations at the opening of the three-day event in Hangzhou, capital of eastern Zhejiang province, on October 31, 2023. Photo: Handout
In October, Alibaba Cloud unveiled a suite of new industry-specific AI tools, built on its large language model Tongyi Qianwen, to help enterprises unlock the transformative potential of generative AI – the technology behind ChatGPT and similar services.
The release of a new AI-enabled SaaS offering for Alibaba.com’s merchants comes amid increased competition in major overseas markets from the likes of Temu, the US-based discount shopping platform launched by PDD Holdings in September last year.

Alibaba International Digital Commerce (AIDC), the business group that operates retail and wholesale marketplaces including Lazada, AliExpress and Alibaba.com, has become one of the e-commerce giant’s fastest-growing units at a time when domestic retail sales have turned sluggish.

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Alibaba.com, which is touted as “the leading business-to-business e-commerce platform for global trade”, has more than 200,000 merchants offering made-in-China products to markets around the world.

During the September quarter, the combined order growth of AIDC rose 28 per cent year on year, driven by solid performance from all major retail platforms. In the same quarter, this group’s revenue increased 53 per cent from a year ago.

Temu has expanded to more than 40 countries since last year’s launch in the US.



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