Alibaba unveils Hangzhou digital factory
Alibaba Group unveiled its Xunxi Digital Factory on Wednesday, a Hangzhou-based smart manufacturing facility which will support customized and demand-driven production.
It will offer a trend and sales forecast model for apparel makers, as well as an artificial intelligence-aided integrated product design platform.
The facility and capabilities will be extended to manufacturers in other industries.
“This allows traditional manufacturers to improve profitability and reduce inventory levels while still being able to meet these personalization needs,” said Alain Wu, CEO of Xunxi Digital Technology Co, an affiliate of the e-commerce giant.
It also marks a key strategy as part of a scheme called "New Retail, New Manufacturing, New Finance, New Technology and New Energy" introduced by founder Jack Ma in 2016.
The factory is able to produce small-batch orders with shorter delivery times using real-time resourcing, process and cost planning, automated in-house logistics, and ultimately enhance manufacturing efficiency.
Customer-to-manufacturing has been a hot issue for manufacturers facing customers who are more picky and demanding more individual characteristics for specific functions.
Harnessing data insights is crucial to capturing new opportunities in the shift in consumer preference for personalized rather than mass-produced goods.
Apparel and clothes are the biggest categories on Alibaba’s retail marketplaces in China and this gives the e-commerce giant an advantage in gathering customer insights and solving specific issues for businesses of various sizes.
The new move will help apparel customers reduce inventory levels further, while continuing to increase efficiency and the level of customization.