Retail in Asia

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EXCLUSIVE: Eric Zhao on leveraging technology for drone delivery Eric Zhao interview China e-commerce - Retail in Asia

During the RISE conference that was held in Hong Kong mid-July 2017, Retail in Asia interviewed exclusively Eric Zhao, Vice President of Technology of

Chinese e-commerce giant keeps racing its competitor Alibaba by evolving and being innovative. Both players are likely to increase their revenues for the next quarter. is today the largest retailer in China, counting US$37.5 billion net revenues in 2016, more than 122,000 employees and 7 fulfilment centres and 263 warehouses covering 2,672 counties and districts across China by March 31, 2017.

Eric Zhao explains that is using big data and Artificial Intelligence (AI) algorithms to better understand its customers, to improve its systems and apply personalized search. Indeed, the customer’s online search is unique. Almost every page on their website is personalized depending on the user’s interests. is also leveraging the technology in other areas. First, with the supply chain management, they combine AI algorithms and big data in order to decide how to price the products.

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Then, with the logistics networks, they have started a drone program and are in the middle of building a complete solution to reach their goal of improving the efficiency of the company’s logistics network. Light, short-range drones are already being used to make deliveries in rural areas, and the company is now working on developing larger, heavy-load drones that can carry more than a ton. These would be used to transport high-quality products to remote areas and agricultural produce to cities.

Artificial Intelligence technologies are used by to optimize its network efficiency. Using predictive logistics, for example, the company can anticipate what consumers want before they even place their orders and can dispatch goods to the nearest delivery station so that when consumers do place their order they can get their products soon afterwards.

The consumer habits and needs are actually the biggest challenge for because they keep changing. needs to predict the user behaviour and the shifting demand to face the competition as well as to stand as the leader of the e-commerce industry.