Would you trust fashion advice from a machine?

Ecommerce giant Alibaba are attempting to bring artificial intelligence into the fashion world. In partnership with GUESS, last week they launched their pilot “FashionAI” concept store in Hong Kong. The concept attempts to enrich the customer shopping experience by bridging GUESS’s in-store retail experience with advanced Alibaba AI.

The concept of bringing AI into retail is nothing new. We’ve now seen multiple digitalised unmanned stores popping up from both Amazon and Alibaba. Yet these are are mostly convenience or commodity based offers. Fashion is a different market. It is subjective, an item that works for one consumer might not work for another. Not too mention buying clothes can often be about the shopping experience itself.

“As technology changes how we interact, it also affects how we shop. As our customers evolve, it is critical that we evolve with them”. Victor Herrero, CEO of GUESS.

So how does the GUESS store work? Customers “check-in” to the store using their mobile phone. All items of clothing within the store are fitted with an RFID tag. When a customer picks up a product the closest smart mirror registers that the item has been picked up and displays relevant product details on the screen.

A photo from the GUESS FashionAI popup store.

This all sounds cool right? But this isn’t anything new. What really makes the GUESS concept store unique is the use of AI. A sophisticated algorithm sits within the store that learns fashions trends based off data collected from Alibaba, what consumers are purchasing within the store and the individual’s own purchase history. Once a consumer picks up an item, the smart mirror can provide mix and match recommendations.

For instance let’s say a consumer pick up a pair of pants. The technology can provide the customer with what shoes or top will go with those pants based on what’s trending and the customer’s learned style. Essentially Alibaba have built a machine that recognises fashion trends.

After providing recommendations, smart mirrors also suggest where other items are located in-store.

Fitting rooms are likened to an Apple Genius bar rather than your traditional store change room. Customers in the store don’t carry clothes with them. Rather, they simply add clothes they like to their basket using the smart mirror technology. Staff work in back of house to have the clothes waiting for customers in the next-generation fitting room. Once the fitting room is available, users are then alerted via their phone. The fitting rooms are equipped with smart mirrors which allow users to request a different size or request new items to try without leaving the fitting room. Consumers can then purchase through Alipay app with just one click.

Unfortunately the concept store was only opened as a trial for 3 days, however it gives us a glimpse of what the future of fashion retail might look like powered by artificial intelligence.

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