TECHNOLOGY

Guess, Alibaba team up for ‘smart store’ pilot

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Fashion retailer Guess and Alibaba are raising the bar, using artificial intelligence to personalize the in-store shopping experience.

On July 5, Alibaba launched “FashionAI,” a pilot pop-up that showcases Guess apparel using Internet of Things technology. The store, at Hong Kong Polytechnic University, is only open through July 7.

FashionAI features smart mirrors, which display product information on a nearby screen as shoppers touch or pick up an RFID-labeled garment. It also makes product recommendations and highlights where the suggested items can be found in the store.

The mirror also streamlines visits to the fitting room. Consumers use the smart mirror to add items to their virtual shopping cart, or update sizes or colors. Store associates are alerted to requests, and drop off the selected garments in a fitting room.

RFID, gyro-sensors and Bluetooth low-energy chips also capture all product movement, and track the most popular merchandise colors, styles and attributes, according to Alibaba.

Guess designed the pilot to evaluate how the technology can enhance the in-store customer experience and inform business decisions, such as product selection, inventory management, and dressing mannequins in window displays.

“It’s important that we continuously invest in new technology and platforms. This entire [concept store] project came together in just five months, thanks to a strong partnership between our two companies,” said José Blanco, CEO of the Greater China market at Guess.

“It is very important to [combine] the insight from fashion experience and insight from technology,” he added. “This is what has really reinforced our partnership with Alibaba since day one — both sides see this as important. The technology itself is good, but you have to learn from expertise and experience, and this is what we are bringing at the moment.”

Guess said plans to add FashionAI technology to stores. Stores on mainland China and Hong Kong will be the first to use the technology, according to Blanco.

Meanwhile, Alibaba plans to leverage FashionAI’s recommendation capabilities in its new “virtual wardrobe” feature on its mobile Taobao app. The functionality will allow shoppers to view clothes they’ve tried on in-store, as well as recommendations across brands, including items sold by other merchants on Alibaba’s shopping sites, Taobao and Tmall, the company reported.

This is not Guess’ first endeavor with Alibaba. The fashion retailer established a partnership with Alibaba in 2013, when it launched its brand in Tmall e-marketplace. Since teaming up, Guess has experienced “overall strong performance and growth in the Asia Pacific region,” according to the company.

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TECHNOLOGY

Study: Prime Day to give back-to-school spending a big boost

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Retailers are jumping onboard Amazon’s upcoming Prime Day event to kick off their back-to-school shopping season.

Brick-and-mortar retailers were able to jump-start their back-to-school shopping season by nearly a month due to Prime Day shopping in 2017, according to “The 2018 Back to School Spend Report,” a study from Cardlytics. This year, the shopping extravaganza will run 36 hours, starting at noon EST on July 16, through July 17.

Traditional retailers that operate an online channel executed earlier back-to-school campaigns in 2017 to capture Prime Day wallet share. While their back-to-school spending share stayed flat, this was an improvement from experiencing decreases in previous years, according to the study.

Prime Day back-to-school shoppers also tend to be big spenders across all channels, especially compared to consumers who don’t take advantage of the shopping holiday. Last year, 17% of Prime Day customers spent more in stores, 16% spent more on traditional retailers’ e-commerce sites, and 23% spent more with online-only retailers.

Companies also consider Prime Day consumers to be more valuable than customers who don’t shop during Prime Day — especially during the week following the event. Last year, 34.5% of customers shopped with online retailers compared to 10.5% of non-Prime Day shoppers. These customers also spent more on traditional retailer websites, with 6% making purchases vs. 5%.

Not all early bird shoppers wait for Prime Day to fill their online carts, however. Online customers often fill their basket throughout the year and hold off on actually making a purchase until a major sale, a move that leads to bigger online baskets this time of year, the study revealed.

“While it may be tempting to hold off on promotions until the winter holidays, it’s important for merchants to stay top-of-mind all year round to strengthen brand loyalty,” the study said. “Launch teaser campaigns of a major back-to-school sales event. This will encourage back-to-school shoppers to get a head start on viewing your products and filling their online carts.”

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Amazon reportedly making unlikely move to sell toys

BY CSA Staff

Amazon will be going old-school this holiday season as it looks to win over former Toys “R” Us customers.

Taking a page from the now-defunct toy chain and from other traditional retailers, the online giant will print a toy catalog for the upcoming holiday season, Bloomberg reported. The catalog will be mailed to shoppers’ homes and also be available at Whole Foods Market stores.

This is not Amazon’s first try at a holiday toy guide. In 2007, the company published an online toy list that highlighted the most in-demand toys that season.

To read more, click here.

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