Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba generated sales worth 268.5bn yuan ($38.4bn) during its annual Singles Day global shopping festival, but behind the headline figure comes the news that more than one million orders were placed and paid through voice command.

Millions of shoppers used the Tmall Genie smart speaker to purchase items throughout the day, according to analysis from Alibaba A.I. Labs, the research unit responsible for the device.

As reported by Alizila, a news portal owned by Alibaba, purchases included 810,000 eggs, 1.4 million tons of rice and 76 tons of liquid detergent, suggesting that the technology is being used increasingly to buy common domestic essentials.

On hearing a simple command, such as “Tmall Genie, I want to buy some eggs”, the device processes the [confirmed] purchase via Alipay, one of Alibaba’s payment methods, and customers can then track their order on the Taobao and Tmall platforms.

According to Alibaba, more than 40% of Tmall Genie users have tried its voice-shopping feature, while research from Euromonitor International has found the device accounted for 38% of market share in China in the first nine months of 2019.

“As the number one smart speaker in China, Tmall Genie has become an essential part of many families’ daily life,” said Miffy Chen, general manager of Alibaba A.I. Labs.

“As we continue to enhance the product features and increase the offering of infortainment services – from entertainment and news to children’s books, food delivery and elderly care – we hope the use of a virtual assistant will help people across age groups to embrace a digital life that is simple, fun, informed and connected,” she added.

Among these enhanced features, for example, Tmall Genie’s voice technology now enables Chinese consumers to order a coffee from Starbucks which can be delivered within 30 minutes.

And the device has been connected to more than 235 million home appliances, such as lights and air purifiers, from some 900 brands in China.

Meanwhile, further evidence of the growing popularity of smart speakers is found in a new study from research firm Canalys, which revealed that the global smart speaker market grew 44.9% year-on-year to reach 28.6 million units in Q3 2019.

Amazon shipped 10.4 million units to give it 36.6% of global market share, but Chinese vendors Alibaba (13.6% market share), Baidu (13.1%) and Xiaomi (12%) also feature among the top five manufacturers alongside Google (12.3%).

Sourced from Alizila, Inside Retail Asia, Canalys; additional content by WARC staff