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Amazon patents virtual changing room app with data-led style recommendations

Amazon is developing a fashion app that will allow consumers to trial outfits in a virtual changing room as avatar versions of themselves.

According to a UK patent filed by the retail giant, the app will mine user data to better provide recommendations on what they might like or need. After opting into data-sharing, users will have different data on their phones analysed, such as social media images of themselves and calendar events. Other information such as the weather where they live and where they like to spend their time will also be taken into consideration.

Images of the users taken from their phones will then be rendered into virtual avatars which will enable them to visualise recommendations. The user can then browse outfits and select likes or dislikes by swiping left or right.

The app will further allow users to discover new items of clothing by accessing different tabs such as “search by look”, “randomise” outfits, and “find more like this.” Wishlists and favorite outfits can then be shared on social media.

In recent years, Amazon has hinted at its ambitions of helping users better dress and shop in the home with a series of devices and patents. In 2017, it introduced the Echo Look which similarly analyses user photos to provide style recommendations; in early 2018, it introduced a patent not too dissimilar from this virtual changing room, where a smart mirror will virtually overlay clothes onto the user and place them in different scenarios; and in May last year, it began 3D scanning users in order to explore the future of fit.

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Alibaba pilots AI-enabled store with Guess

Alibaba's FashionAI for GUESS
Alibaba’s FashionAI for GUESS

Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba has partnered with Guess to pilot an artificial intelligence-enabled store of the future concept, where the technology will improve and further personalize the shopping experience.

Located on the campus grounds of the Hong Kong Polytechnic University for one weekend in July, the concept store is showcasing Alibaba’s FashionAI technology that is built around the e-commerce platform Taobao.

“By partnering with Alibaba, a dominant technology leader, we are changing the retail experience as our customers also evolve,” said José 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.”

Upon entering the store, users can check in with their Taobao QR codes or via facial recognition. All items are RFID-enabled, and when picked up, show up in a smart mirror. The mirror also suggests outfits to complete the look either based on the user’s previous purchases or entirely new items, while directing shoppers to where such suggested items can be found in the store.

Shoppers can also use the smart mirrors to add items they would like to try on to a virtual shopping cart, while staff populate the fitting room with their choices. When entering the fitting room, shoppers have their Taobao code scanned, which triggers a dedicated smart mirror. Interestingly if shoppers cannot find what they are looking for at the Guess-branded store, they can add clothing from other Taobao virtual stores via tablets, thus shopping cross-brand. To complete purchase, they must use the Taobao virtual shopping cart.

The store also works as an opportunity for Alibaba to refine the FashionAI concept, while better understanding how the resulting data can help brands be smarter about ordering and maintaining inventory.

“Guess and Alibaba share the same vision to understand customer behaviors through technologies, ” said Zhuoran Zhuang, vice president of the Alibaba Group. “With Guess’ retail expertise, we are able to train and refine our 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 personalized services offered in retail shops.”

E-commerce brands are increasingly investigating how the technology that they have refined online can be leveraged in the brick and mortar experience to give demanding consumers the same level of personalized service. In April 2017, Farfetch revealed its store of the future concept, which we delved into in further detail with the project’s managing director Sandrine Deveaux for TheCurrent Innovators podcast in June. The retailer has since announced pilot programmes at Browns in London and Thom Browne in NYC, as well as a long-term partnership with Chanel.