Alibaba's AI-powered fashion consultant serves up suggestions from your dressing room
By Fan Yixin
Chinese online retail giant Alibaba tested its AI-powered deep learning machine on "Double 11", or Singles’ Day, marking its move into the physical retailing industry.
This year's Double 11 saw 25 billion US dollars in sales, quadruple the sales on Black Friday in the US last year. While shopping online made up the majority of sales, FashionAI, Alibaba’s AI machine, debuted in 13 stores across China to play its part in the annual shopping spree.
The machine is a full size interface installed in fitting rooms of brick-and-mortar stores to give shoppers suggestions. When customers bring in clothing items of their choices, the machine will recognize the items through the sensors embedded in the tags and recommend matching items. Shoppers can go through the suggestions on the screen like flipping through a photo album. They can also summon a store clerk to bring in items by pressing a button on the screen.
FashionAI, developed by a team within Alibaba, is able to offer a seamlessly integrated online and offline shopping experience for shoppers. The machine has learned to recognize millions of items and styles on Alibaba’s shopping sites including Taobao.com.
The company’s CEO, Daniel Zhang, told MIT Tech Review that Alibaba is seeking to "digitize the offline retail world."
Unlike the store clerks, FashionAI can remember thousands of millions of customers’ tastes, which make physical shopping experience less tedious and make up for a setback in online shopping, where people cannot try on the clothes.
By including store staff service as a feature, the robotic consultant will not replace human in the jobs.