Apr 22, 2024|

JD.com Debuts AI Digital Representative of Founder Richard Liu During Livestream, Drawing 20 Million Views in Under One Hour


During a livestream on April 16th, JD.com introduced an AI digital representative of its founder, Richard Liu (Qiangdong Liu), nicknamed “procurement and sales manager Brother Dong (采销东哥).” Liu appeared in both JD Home Appliances and JD Supermarket’s livestreaming rooms, attracting over 20 million views within the first hour and generating RMB 50 million in sales throughout the entire livestream.

The digital representative almost perfectly replicates Liu’s facial expressions, body language, gestures, and voice, capturing even the subtlest movements of his fingers. Behind this technology is JD Cloud’s ChatRhino, an advanced large language model (LLM) that brings the avatar to life.

Behind the Technology

The LLM precisely mirrors Liu’s distinctive expressions and movements, naturally weaving in his occasional finger twiddles while he speaks, accentuating points with hand gestures, and adding nods at just the right moments for emphasis, creating a natural and authentic representation. Perfecting the voice proved to be a greater challenge. Those who have heard Liu speak are well-acquainted with the distinct inflections of his Suqian accent—a characteristic touch from his small-town roots in Jiangsu province. Observers will note the brisk pace of his speech, lighter enunciation, and his tendency to meld words in a seamless flow. His “sh” sounds carry a nasal quality, and he often addresses people as “brothers” to boost morale.

While programming the standard Mandarin dialect is relatively straightforward, teaching the AI to adopt the nuances of the Suqian dialect and Liu’s unique vocal patterns required a precise level of customization from the ChatRhino LLM. For example, the LLM had to provide accurate judgments on when to introduce the nasal tonality or the specific moments to merge words, ensuring the AI’s linguistic output mirrored Liu’s signature speaking style authentically.

Beyond replicating vocal characteristics, the AI’s voice must also be suitable for the casual, dynamic atmosphere of e-commerce livestreaming, such as adopting colloquialisms like “xiong di men” — a phrase comparable to “folks” or “guys” in English — to create a friendly rapport with the audience. JD Cloud’s ChatRhino team fine-tuned the model to focus on sociable nuances. The initial dataset for the LLM consisted predominantly of Liu’s formal speeches—spirited and compelling, yet too ceremonious for the interactive world of livestreaming. To cultivate a more congenial and approachable persona, the team utilized Liu’s recent casual conversations as the primary source material, rich with personal anecdotes and travel tales. This approach shaped the AI’s voice into one that is that is not only natural and approachable but also genuinely engaging for the end user.

As a fully self-developed technology product of JD Cloud, the ChatRhino Digital Representative solution has already served over 4,000 brand merchants, contributing to a 30% increase in order conversion rate during idle hours and helping merchants reduce livestreaming costs, enhance operational efficiency, and optimize user experience. Equipped with 50,000 hours of voice data, this technology enables digital representatives to intelligently adapt to various livestreaming styles dynamically.

The AI is also adept at managing 70% of routine live chat inquiries autonomously without any manual intervention, while also optimizing its responses with a self-improving algorithm. For instance, digital representatives can autonomously fields questions using product details and scripts, and post-livestream, and assimilate new information. Mirroring the acumen of seasoned sales professionals, it boasts a 90% accuracy rate in offering tailored product recommendations when solicited by customers.

The recent introduction of a cutting-edge livestream control console serves as the “brain” for the digital representative solution. It diligently monitors real-time inventory, adjusting the showcased products in the livestream and tailoring the script to ensure relevance—sidestepping items that are out of stock and spotlighting those in high demand. It also gauges and fine-tunes the frequency and style of interactions based on live audience engagement. With this advanced platform, businesses managing multiple livestreams can effortlessly operate thousands of sessions concurrently via cloud services, bypassing the need for intricate local setups. This innovation yields a substantial cost reduction of 30%.


Human-Machine Synergy

The intention behind digital avatars is not to outshine or compete with human talent but to harness the potential of technology to work in concert with livestreamers, maximizing overall growth. Essentially, the digital representative solution serves as a tool for brands and merchants to leverage long-tail traffic once real livestreamers conclude their broadcasts. JD’s analytics indicate this strategy can boost order conversion rates by 30% during off-peak hours, such as late into the night.

Digital representatives also excel in specific product categories that require detailed explanations, such as health products like nursing beds, electric wheelchairs, and oxygen concentrators.  The solution can provide constant, round-the-clock guidance, adding substantial value to livestreams when traffic is typically lower.

Last week, JD.com announced an investment of one billion yuan into video content creation. This investment underscores JD’s commitment to leveraging the power of short videos and livestreams to transform the online shopping experience for its users and create new growth avenues for brand merchants.