Jingren, Head of Search and Recommend Business Unit and Advertising Technology, Alibaba
Dear fellow workers,
The year 2020 got off to an unusually rough start.
Bustling streets went quiet. Boisterous dinners, so typical of the festive season, gave way to quarantine routines. Such scenes remind us of the 2003 SARS pandemic. Luckily enough, the Alibaba economy has greater technological capacity than 17 years ago. Moreover, the fate of Aliren has always been bound up with those of our customers, come what may.
If there was a shred of worry at the beginning that telework could run into problems like Internet failure and miscommunications in complicated projects, that worry has long since been dispelled by the sheer efficiency our teammates demonstrated.
When this pandemic just started, we at Search and Recommend BU immediately noticed changes in users’ expectations through data analysis.
To ensure good consumer experience, we looked immediately into their needs, built an anti-COVID-19 marketplace together with industry stakeholders, mobilized target merchants and sourced products urgently offline to ensure supply. We jumped into bed with DAMO Academy’s OCR team to recognize product information and optimize search ranking. We teamed up with CRO to immediately remove shoddy/defective products and storefronts and make a white list of anti-COVID-19 merchants. We also worked hand in glove with CCO to detect and crack down on exaggerated advertising, counterfeiting, and price gouging… Confronted with declining delivery capacity amid the escalating pandemic, we used Cainiao’s algorithm technology to identify and support merchants with high delivery capacity, doing our level best to speed the urgently needed goods to tens of thousands of consumers stuck at home.
When February came, the entire country went into home quarantine. Suddenly, keeping everyone well-fed became an issue of national importance. We swiftly shifted our focus offline and prioritized supplies on Taoxianda, our online-offline retail integration service solution for FMCG and grocery retail partners with physical stores. The services reached as far as fourth-tier cities, so most people could replenish their groceries without stepping out of their homes, which significantly lowered the risk of cluster infection.
Outside the window, spring blossoms are yawning away the lingering slumber. The wheel of time is once again rolling on thawing soil. On my screen, messages like “What’s up?”, “Got it.” and “In a sec!” come thick and fast. Everyone is full of fight.
Teammates may be working from home, on the road, or in the office. They may be staying in a quiet corner, or searching high and low for Internet connection, or splitting time between work and worries about their loved ones on the coronavirus front lines.
Whatever the circumstances, we tech staff at Alibaba always believe in one thing: What does not defeat us makes us stronger!