man recording a video of a product, assisted by a women

No equipment needed: Aliwood promises hassle free video editing of product demos, to help increase brand engagement. Source: Pexels

No editing needed: videos bring more engagement for online merchants

VIDEOS are a great way to showcase products in your online shop. Editing videos, however, is a long laborious task.

Alibaba is letting online merchants create product videos in under a minute. “Aliwood”, an AI-powered tool, automatically creates a 20-second video with background music, dynamic image flow and text. Aliwood extracts information from the merchant’s product page.

Compared to static photos, videos add a degree of engagement with shoppers. Limin Paul Fu, Head of the HCI Lab, said Aliwood is a “useful tool for merchants to attract and engage consumers.”

Alibaba predicts that video advertising increases online purchase volume by 2.6 percent. Customers also generally spend longer browsing at a shop with product videos. However, currently on Taobao, Alibaba’s e-commerce platform, Fu observes that only less than 1 percent of the product ads feature short videos.

“There is a huge demand for quality short videos from Taobao merchants, many of whom are a small business or individual store owners that may not be able to afford high-end designers,” said Fu.

Aliwood is built with emotional algorithms to match the videos with the most suitable background music. In a press release, Alibaba explains “Music labeled as high arousal with positive emotions is prioritized as consumers are believed to be more easily drawn to upbeat music. Customers’ online feedback is then factored into the algorithm to make real-time adjustments on the video.”

The company will initially rollout Aliwood for merchants selling apparel and electronic products, hopefully by the end of this year. With Aliwood, Alibaba is targeting where customers are, and it sees these two categories showing higher levels of engagement with video on Taobao. Aliwood will become available to all merchants and other clients later.

This isn’t the company’s first foray into using AI technology on its platform. During Singles’ Day promotions last year, Alibaba reportedly used about 10 types of AI and robotics systems for various applications.

One of them, similar to Aliwood, was used for designing. Luban was said to help create up to 400 million product posters for the festive promotion. According to a statement by Alibaba, Luban is “capable of generating approximately 8,000 different banner designs per second”.

The company estimates that Luban helped shaved off 150 years’ worth of work for 100 designers for the Singles’ Day campaign alone. The e-commerce giant also uses AI for customer service functions, answering shopper’s questions.

Currently, it’s not a stretch to say Alibaba is dominating the e-commerce scene, through employing AI to help with its operations, as well as merchants. If any other players outside of China (we’re looking at you Lazada, 11Street, Shopee) wants to stay competitive, we’d really like to see them embark on more AI initiatives.