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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