Biz / Tech

CEO's digital avatar makes sales pitch during JD livestream

Ding Yining
Millions of online viewers tune in for a livestreaming event on on Tuesday to see whether they could tell the AI avatar from the real person of company CEO Liu Qiangdong.
Ding Yining
CEO's digital avatar makes sales pitch during JD livestream
Ti Gong

A screenshot of JD CEO Liu Qiangdong's digital avatar during a livestream on Tuesday evening.

Tens of millions of viewers tuned in for a livestream on on Tuesday to see whether they could tell the artificial intelligence avatar from the real CEO Liu Qiangdong.

Recording the highest ever viewership at JD's procurement and sales livestreaming channel of over 13 million, the transaction amount has also been a hit.

The total number of orders surged 7.6 times from a week earlier and sales volume of agricultural products with deep discounts such as corns and eggs jumped 5.7 times within the first half hour of the session.

The livestream promoting JD Supermarket's merchandise lasted about 40 minutes, with Liu spending about 3 to 5 minutes on each product.

The AI clone of Liu, powered by the Chinese e-commerce giant's large language model ChatRhino, became a buzzword on social media when the announcement was first made on Monday.

"I'm happy to share my ideas and daily habits through this new format," Liu said in a preview video shared on JD's official account.

Liu said he ran to keep fit during the livestream.

He unveiled steep discounts for daily groceries, fruit and fresh food such as beef, and yogurt through lucky draws during the livestream.

A separate promotional activity, featuring home appliances, smart TVs and tickets for the UEFA Euro 2024 soccer tournament, also drew bargain hunters as well as those eager to see what an AI avatar looked like.

Amid its latest initiative to promote video content and livestreams to boost sales, the e-commerce site earlier this month announced a billion yuan (US$138.1 million) in cash incentives to attract video content creators and institutions to its platform.

Over 40 percent of Internet users regard online streaming and short video formats to be important shopping channels, according to the latest audio and visual industry research report by the China Netcasting Service Association.

Several Chinese enterprise bosses have tried livestreaming, including Dong Mingzhu, president of the Gree Electric Appliance. Xiaomi's Lei Jun has also announced that he will appear in a livestream on Thursday afternoon.

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