Alibaba and GUESS Open Digital-First Concept Store

Alibaba’s concept of ‘New Retail’ has completely revolutionised the shopping experience across Asia, and with the company’s latest move, the global fashion industry could soon become unrecognisable.

The e-commerce juggernaut is opening a pilot concept store in Hong Kong that will showcase the company’s latest artificial intelligence project – FashionAI. Working in collaboration with the project’s global strategic partner, GUESS, Alibaba plans to give shoppers a glimpse of what the future of fashion will look like.

“With the latest AI technologies, like machine learning and computing vision, FashionAI can now recommend items that match [a person’s] personal style,” said Zhuoran Zhuang, vice president of Alibaba Group.

“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.”

Improving Customer Experience

Alibaba’s pop-up store will reportedly showcase a number of New Retail shopping features and innovations, including mix-and-match selections, smart lock technology to capture consumer preferences and a new fitting room experience.

AI-Based Mix-and-Match Suggestions

According to Alibaba, its FashionAI technology can proactively recognise different fashion elements, such as a garment’s colour, style, or attributes (sleeve length, cut and etc). When a consumer picks up a particular item of clothing, the system should be able to provide mix-and-match recommendations on a smart mirror that will be installed in the concept store.

ALibaba and GUESS New Retail pop up
Alibaba and GUESS will use smart mirrors in their FashionAI concept store. Source: supplied.

Since the smart mirror is equipped with ‘Taobao Wardrobe’ capabilities, the mirror is also able to provide recommendations or “matching pieces” from the Guess items available in-store based on a consumer’s previous purchases on Taobao or Tmall.

Smart Lock to Capture Consumer Preferences

Alibaba’s Smart Lock technology utilises gyro-sensors, a Bluetooth low energy (BLE) chip, and a radio-frequency identification (RFID) chip to automatically display garments that are picked up by consumers on nearby RFID-enabled magic mirrors.

New Fitting Experience

To improve in-store customer experiences, shoppers can select items they’re interested in straight from the concept store’s smart mirrors, which will alert retail staff who will then gather the selected garments and accessories and take them directly to the fitting room for customers to try on.

When purchasing any items from the concept store, Alibaba says the purchases will also automatically link to the consumer’s Taobao or Tmall account, so they can receive up-to-date product recommendations and mix-and-match selections in the future.

Alibaba New retail
Alibaba’s tech will send purchase history directly to a consumer’s Tmall account.

As Alibaba’s partner for the project, Jose Blanco, GUESS’ CEO of Greater China, was pleased with how quickly and effectively the concept store came together.

“It is important that we continually 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,” Blanco said.

According to Alibaba, the concept store embodies its concept of ‘New Retail’, showing consumers and retailers alike how online and offline commerce can seamlessly integrate into an omnichannel shopping model that boasts both convenience and choice.

The FashionAI pop-up store will open at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University campus on July 5 and run until July 7, as part of the Artificial Intelligence in Fashion and Textile Conference 2018.

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