Alibaba launches fashion concept store using artificial intelligence
Alibaba Group is pushing the tech frontiers this week and has unveiled an artificial intelligence (AI) system that’s “ready to recommend your next outfit” at a concept store in Hong Kong, “showcasing a new model for the digitisation of fashion retail.”
From Thursday, it will be offering customers personalised mix-and-match recommendations from the Guess range with the AI “having the ability to ‘learn’ the latest fashion trends and tips from analysis of data generated by Alibaba's ecosystem.” The Chinese giant said the tech is based on consumer insights from its ecosystem, including images of more than 500,000 outfits put together by stylists on Taobao, as well as fashion expertise from Tmall partner brands and from consumers themselves. The concept store will only be open for a few days (from July 5 to 7) on the Hong Kong Polytechnic University campus, but will highlight one of the key areas that analysts see as offering huge potential for future fashion retail. “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 Zhuoran Zhuang, Alibaba Group VP. “With the latest AI technologies, [it] 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 retailers.” Looking deeper at the key features, the mix-and-match suggestions will see the AI able to identify fashion elements (including colour, style, attributes such sleeve length or neckline) of a particular fashion item picked up by a customer and provide recommendations via the in-store smart mirror. The mirror also has a Taobao Wardrobe section, which shows consumers any matching pieces from the Guess line inside the store that could work with any of their previously purchased items on Taobao or Tmall. A smart lock equipped with Gyro-sensors, Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) chip and Radio-frequency identification (RFID) chip will be attached to each item. Garments and accessories touched or picked up by consumers will be automatically displayed on the RFID-enabled magic mirror nearby. And there’s “a new fitting experience” too. After consumers select any items on the smart mirror that they want to try out, store staff will be alerted by the in-store system and then prepare garments and accessories in the fitting area for the customer. The shopper’s purchase record in the store will be automatically reflected on consumers' mobile Taobao or Tmall accounts.