Alibaba Introduces AI Feature to Boost Efficiency and Growth for SMEs

The Smart Assistant, an AI-powered global sourcing tool, caters to both newcomers and seasoned entrepreneurs in the dynamic world of global commerce.

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yan/ launches its latest Smart Assistant features powered by artificial intelligence (AI). The Smart Assistant, an AI-powered global sourcing tool, caters to both newcomers and seasoned entrepreneurs in the dynamic world of global commerce.

“Today’s small businesses face a variety of headwinds, but with the right technology and support, they can feel confident that they will overcome obstacles and help their business thrive, which is why we’re expanding the features of our new Smart Assistant tool to better serve today’s entrepreneurs,” says Chris Lu, general manager at North America. “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.”

Key Takeaways:

  • developed the Smart Assistant as an AI-powered, intuitive personal guide to sourcing that helps small business owners discover new opportunities, stay up-to-date on trends, track orders and more in a single, efficient touchpoint.
  • First announced at CES and coming soon to the, Smart Assistant is the Instant Help feature, which leverages an AI-powered chatbot to answer basic inquiries and offer real-time insights and resources, regardless of time zones or language barriers. The Instant Help feature provides buyers with essential knowledge and industry insights about a variety of verticals and product types, as well as offer tips to elevate their communications with suppliers. It will help ensure small businesses can increase efficiency, purchase smart and keep up with trends by leveraging AI to increase competitive advantages.
  • Since their launch in September 2023, the first two features of the Smart Assistant – Upgraded Image Search and Smart Request for Quotation (RFQ) – have already provided significant benefit to entrepreneurs using the desktop platform. Based on’s internal study since September 2023, buyers using the Upgraded Image Search have seen a 28% higher deal closing rate than those only using traditional text search. Buyers who used the Smart RFQ tool saw 29% more quotes from suppliers, while suppliers saw a 21% increase in buyer responses to quotes as compared to the original RFQ process. 
  • The campaign debuts at a key crossroads for small business owners. The U.S. has seen a surge in the number of newly registered businesses, which hit record highs in both 2021 (5.4 million) and 2022 (5.1 million). Sadly, 20% of these new businesses face failure within the first two years, and a staggering 45% of startups do not surpass the five-year mark due to challenges such as market volatility, supply chain disruption, shifting consumer demands and inventory management. This makes the tools and capabilities, which are designed to help entrepreneurs level up their sourcing and supply chain operations in the increasingly competitive small business arena, more valuable than ever.