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AI meets clothing retail in 'magic mirror'

By He Wei in Shanghai | China Daily | Updated: 2018-01-02 07:39
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The application of artificial intelligence has gone far beyond driverless cars or futuristic robotics that outsmart men in the strategy board game Go.

In China, AI is playing a vital role in changing shopping experiences by using algorithms to track, analyze and satisfy each consumer's specific needs.

In the latest instance, shoppers in Guangdong province are among the first group to experience smart clothing recommendation powered by an intelligent fitting room in apparel stores such as Jack & Jones and Vero Moda.

Through facial recognition technologies, a "magic mirror" system allows customers to immediately view themselves in the clothes they pick, according to Bestseller A/S, the company behind the brands.

By factoring in gender, age, climate and other predilections, it can also swap those clothes with other recommendations, removing the need to constantly shuttle between clothing racks and changing rooms.

To enjoy the perks of such services, customers must first activate the brands' virtual membership card via WeChat, China's most popular chat-to-payment app, and allow for facial payment.

China's tech giants have wasted little time in placing their chips on AI-backed retail.

During the annual Nov 11 shopping festival, Alibaba Group Holding Ltd supported Shiseido to install an electronic mirror that allowed customers to try lipsticks virtually and complete the purchase with a few taps on the screen.

Designer apparel shop Alain de has introduced such smart mirrors since October and responses have been brisk, according to Chen Huaiyu, a store chief at the brand's outlet in Joy City, a mall in Shanghai.

"If you pick a pair of jeans, the machine will present five alternatives in 10 different colors," she said. "It can also recommend the most suitable tops, bags and other accessories to go along (with) your selection, effectively boosting our sales."

Smart recommendations and virtual fitting rooms are set to be a huge business reshaping the retail sector, said Huang Zhongsheng, co-founder and CEO of Haomaiyi, which provides such technology for Alibaba's Tmall site.

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