How Fashion Retailers Are Using AI to Give Shoppers Style Inspiration

More often than not, artificial intelligence is the secret sauce behind the innovative enhancements brands and retailers are rolling out to discerning, hard-to-please customers.

Luxury online retailer Yoox’s R&D team created Yooxmirror, a “virtual styling suite” powered by AI, which the company said in a news release is designed to “entertain customers while they express their personality.” Inside the styling suite on the iOS mobile app, users will find 250 products each week touching on nine themes in fashion.

The clothing, shoes, accessories and more are displayed in the now-familiar rotating stories format popularized by the likes of Snapchat and Instagram, and customers can virtually try items on any one of a number of avatar models. One such model is Daisy, who also serves as users’ guide around the styling feature — and also will “take over” Yoox’s Instagram account from time to time, the Milan-based luxury player said.

Yoox president Paolo Mascio said in shouldering Instagram responsibilities, Daisy will, in essence, “become the personification of Yoox, allowing us an even more direct contact with our followers and customs.”

Behind the scenes, Yooxmirror employs deep learning, complex algorithms and virtual reality that together identify visual aspects such as color and pattern, choose appropriate alternatives and coordinating options, and realistically overlay digital garments onto virtual models.

Meanwhile, Portuguese competitor Farfetch is putting AI to use in the form of visual search that allows users of its app to upload a photo and see visually similar items offered on the luxury marketplace platform. The company, which recently filed for an IPO, partnered with Israeli visual AI startup Syte to enable what it’s calling the See It, Snap It, Shop It feature. In a statement, Farfetch described the addition of visual search as “the next step to creating a cohesive retail environment.”

The new feature for Farfetch’s iOS app gives users a tool to act on style inspiration right at the moment of discovery.

“By implementing the visual search feature, we want to offer customers more options for enhanced fashion discovery across all our touch points, and our customers have responded really positively so far,” Sara Wood, Farfetch vice president of product, said, describing visual search as “the ultimate connection between on- and offline inspiration.”

“By allowing our customers to show us what they are interested in, we gain a deeper understanding of their needs, are able to inspire them with fashion based on what they are looking for and enable a more [personalized] shopping experience,” Wood said.

Though most retailers (49 percent) implement AI-based solutions with an eye toward cost savings, according to data from Statista, another 26 percent are focused on more quickly deploying new services and products like the ones Yoox and Fafetch have whipped up. At the beginning of this year, Juniper Research predicted that retail spending on AI will jump from $2 billion this year to $7.3 billion by 2022, and companies realize the many benefits from handing certain tasks over to digitization and automation.

Editor’s Note: This story was reported by FN’s sister magazine Sourcing Journal. For more, visit Sourcingjournal.com.

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