Alibaba opens AI-powered fashion boutique

Fashion-AI-concept-storeAlibaba has partnered with global fashion retailer Guess on a new concept store in Hong Kong to show how artificial intelligence (AI) can enhance the in-store shopping experience.

The concept store is the latest example of Alibaba’s New Retail strategy, which aims to seamlessly integrate online shopping and offline commerce.

Customers in the store can browse items, which are equipped with gyro sensors and RFID chips, so that they automatically appear on a nearby smart mirror when they are picked up.

The smart mirror also displays personalised mix-and-match recommendations for each item based on AI insights from Alibaba’s ecosystem, images of more than 500,000 outfits put together by stylists on Taobao, as well as fashion expertise from Tmall partner brands.

Customers can select the items they want to try on, and staff will prepare a fitting room with those items, so customers don’t have to carry their picks around the store. This, together with the RFID chips, also provides added security.

Every purchase in the offline store is automatically reflected on consumers’ mobile Taobao or Tmall accounts, so they can find even more mix-and-match recommendations from other brands in Taobao and Tmall, expanding the recommendation capability beyond the limits of an offline store.

“FashionAI embodies our thinking of what the future of fashion retail could look like, and an exploration of using technologies to better understand and cater to consumers’ fashion needs,” said Alibaba Group vice president Zhuoran Zhuang.

“With the latest AI technologies, like machine learning and computing vision, FashionAI can now recommend items that match your personal style. That gives imagination to consumers and injects new ideas into fashion brands and retailers to rethink their business and sales models. Leveraging AI in fashion, therefore, offers many untapped opportunities for fashion retailers.”

How to do your shopping at the new Alibaba FashionAI concept store:

  • Check into the concept store with a mobile Taobao ID code where shoppers can opt into a face scan for a more personalised experience. Browse around like at any clothing store. The difference is that items picked up from RFID-enabled clothing rack will automatically show up on the mirror.
  • The smart mirror also shows personalised mix-and-match options to complete the look. It also directs shoppers to where other suggested items can be found inside the store.
  • For people who like to “try before they buy”, there’s no need to carry around a pile of clothes while shopping. Just add items to the virtual shopping cart and head to the fitting room hands free.
  • Real time analytics enable staff to move much faster and provide customers with an efficient, stress-free experience. It also helps brands maintain their inventory.
  • Before entering the fitting room where there aren’t any cameras installed, the staff scan a customer’s Taobao ID code to connect the account to the mirror. Use the mirror to look through the selected items and update size and color changes.
  • The mirror will alert staff to bring in the garment or shoes in a new size or colour.
  • For shoppers who can’t make up their mind, they can also go through a virtual wardrobe on Mobile Taobao to see the clothes they’ve tried in-store and explore mix-and-match options from other brands on Alibaba’s e-commerce sites Taobao and TMall.

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