E-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding and lifestyle brand Guess on Wednesday showed off a new artificial intelligence driven concept for future fashion stores, as retailers incorporate technology into offline shopping to improve customer experience and drive sales.
A concept store showing off Alibaba’s FashionAI technology has been set up on the campus grounds of Hong Kong Polytechnic University, will be open to the public from July 5 to July 7.
It is built around Alibaba’s e-commerce platform Taobao. Users check in to the store with their mobile Taobao QR code and all the items displayed in-store come with corresponding Taobao product listings, so that users can add the items they would like to purchase directly to their Taobao cart.
Within the store, each item, whether it’s a dress or a pair of heels, comes with an RFID tag. When a customer picks up a product, the smart mirror closest to the user registers the tag and displays an image of the item as well as the product details on the screen. The smart mirror can also provide mix and match suggestions for items in the store and styling suggestions based on previous purchases made by the user.
Customers in the FashionAI store can also select the clothes they would like to try out, which will be prepared for them in the fitting room. The fitting rooms are also equipped with smart mirrors which allow users to choose a different size or even new items to try without leaving the fitting room. Once they have decided which items to purchase, the checkout and payment process can be completed on their smartphones through the Taobao app.
Alibaba has also incorporated the FashionAI concept into its New Retail model, in which it hopes to connect offline and online commerce through the use of data and AI.
“By partnering with Alibaba, a dominant technology leader, we are changing the retail experience as our customers also evolve,” said José Blanco, chief executive of Guess in Greater China. “It is important that we continuously invest in new technology and platforms. At Guess, we believe in the need to innovate in real time. We plan to extend this project in the region as [it is] the future of retail.”
Alibaba’s partnership with Guess has allowed the retailer to “train and refine” its FashionAI system, according to Zhuang Zhuoran, vice-president of Alibaba.
“[We have married] technology with fashion in a way that’s never been done before,” Zhuang said.
At the company’s chain of over 30 Hema supermarkets across China, users can place grocery orders online, or shop offline and have their groceries delivered directly to their homes afterwards. Customers can also pick out fresh seafood at Hema and have chefs prepare them on the spot for a
Others like online retailer JD.com have followed suit, launching New Retail supermarkets such as its line of 7Fresh fresh-food stores, similar to Hema. The 7Fresh stores also come with smart carts which can guide shoppers to their desired aisles.
In Thailand, Bangkok-based Pomelo Fashion is also looking to open its first micro-retail store in Singapore, where shoppers can narrow down product choices online and send their chosen pieces to a physical fitting room to try on.
Seattle-based e-commerce giant Amazon has also moved to integrate its various online offerings with its network of Whole Foods stores in the US.
Alibaba is the parent company of the South China Morning Post.