Guess and Alibaba unveil AI-powered store of the future at Hung Hom
Guess has collaborated with Alibaba Group to bring artificial intelligence (AI) to the fashion world in a store of the future.
The two companies have teamed with Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) to open a short-term FashionAI store at PolyU’s Hung Hom campus, billed as “a glimpse of what the future of fashion retail will look like”.
The store offers customers personalised mix-and-match recommendations and the system is equipped to “learn” the latest fashion trends and tips from analysis of data generated by Alibaba’s ecosystem.
Besides the FashionAI store’s futuristic appeal, the project is aimed at providing a better retail experience for shoppers and to use analytics to help brands be smarter in ordering and maintaining inventory.
“The deployment of FashionAI in a concept store is the latest showcase of how New Retail technologies can breathe new life into traditional offline retailing,” said Zhuoran Zhuang, VP at Alibaba Group. “New Retail is Alibaba’s concept to seamlessly integrate online shopping and offline commerce to provide consumers with the ultimate of ease, convenience and choice.”
The store opens today, featuring a range of Guess apparel and advanced Alibaba AI and other technology, including magic mirrors.
A new shopper journey
Shoppers entering the store can register in several ways, including by facial recognition. When they take an item off the rack for a closer look, an RFID-enabled tag on the sample connects with the mirror, displaying the item. It can recommend other products from Guess, or from the online range at Taobao or Tmall or even – by referencing the shopper’s previous online purchasing history – suggest matches to items already in their wardrobes at home.
The shopper can then choose the size and colour they want to try and proceed to a fitting room where store personnel will have samples waiting to try on. There is only one sample of each item on the rack, which stays in place for the next shopper to browse.
“By partnering with Alibaba, a dominant technology leader, we are changing the retail experience as our customers also evolve,” said Jose Blanco, CEO of Greater China for Guess. “It is important that we continuously invest in new technology and platforms. This entire project came together in just five months thanks to a strong partnership between our two companies. At Guess, we believe in the need to innovate in real time. We plan to extend this project in the region as the future of retail.”
Zhuang said Guess’ retail experience helped Alibaba’s team train and refine its FashionAI system, and marry technology with fashion in a way that’s never been done before.
“We are looking forward to deepening our partnership to innovate personalised services offered in retail shops,” he said.
Guess opened its Tmall store at the end of 2013 and the brand has been one of the most popular brands in the e-commerce site’s fashion apparel category. Sales from the store have more than doubled for the last three consecutive years.
Meanwhile, Alibaba’s proprietary AI system is based on consumer insights from its ecosystem and images of more than 500,000 outfits put together by Taobao stylists and fashion experts from Tmall’s partner brands.
“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 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. ”
The FashionAI concept store, located at the Logo Square of PolyU campus, will be open to the public until Saturday. It has been set up on the sidelines of the Artificial Intelligence on Fashion and Textile Conference 2018, co-hosted by Alibaba and PolyU.