Can AI help us to shop?


19 January 2019

Have any of you been shopping online lately, especially during the sales? Have you noticed how your navigation has changed on the bigger platforms? Yes, that’s AI guiding you through your online shopping experience for you.

Sometimes it reminds me of the latest cars, where the car moves the steering wheel for you when you’re too close to a white line or starts beeping when you are parking in a tight space.

These last few weeks I have been navigating myself on Yoox, ASOS, Gap, Farfetch and Nike, among others, and things have changed. It is true that retail platform and brands alike have been investing vast amounts in AI, trying to find out what the customer really wants before he or her expresses it, and reducing the immense percentage on returns. According to Shopify, returns online are around 20% of total purchases, and during holiday season these can reach 50%. Imagine the backlash for brands.

Navigation with AI is based, among others, on how a user navigated the last time they visited the site - what clothes, brands etc.- , if they like patterns or not, yoga or running, chic or streetwear, high or low budgets. This is all done with the help of machine learning and AI, which is great. The idea is that customers find what they like and need more easily and in less time.

Then you have functionalities like “What size is more suitable for you with this brand”, with companies like TrueFit that have partnered with more than 17.000 brands to determine a sizing system that will allow each customer to be recommended on their most suitable size for a given clothing item. This is kind of cool since you can even say if you want the garment to be tight, adjusted, normal or large on you.

Then if you go on other sites during the afternoon or on Instagram, those same merchants (like Yoox or Farfetch) will propose the stuff you clicked on during your navigation, in the form of ads. So if you have second thoughts, that pair of shoes is right there for you to click on.

Now all this is great. But I think that each person is different and will buy different things at different moments according to varying needs, budgets and desires.

Example: In the last week I have purchased new running pants on, 3 pairs of shoes for my 3 children (3 different sizes) on Yoox, and a second-hand pullover at my favorite second-hand physical store. Since I am starting yoga, perhaps next month I will buy a yoga mat! Then if I have a special party next month for Carnaval, by tastes and needs will change! Do you think you can build a segmented customer profile with that information. Aren’t my needs at that exact time different from most people at a given time?

Going from there, the only way of helping me find what I need in real time is to obtain information when I’m online and try to narrow things down. I don’t want any AI tool to guess what I need, I need them to understand what I need and propose the right options, for me!

What we see though is that brands are concentrated on finding ways to reduce the enormous amount of returns they have due to wrong size, color that doesn’t appear the same, ill fitting, material that looks different from the photo, etc.

We think that the key is to actually concentrate on how we can help the customer find what they like and what SUITS THEM, not only for them to buy, buy, buy but to help them to get to know their body, to learn how to wear and match colors, to find the shapes that suit them best.

In this way, when they receive that package, or even when they open their wardrobe each morning, they know exactly what to pick and how to combine their outfits.

I see so many women and men that sink into nothingness because they are afraid to wear color, to change how they dress, to actually take control of their identity and how they look. Shopping can be fun when you know what you are looking for and where to look.

Everyone has their prejudices, and there is one thing I despise in fashion and that is leggings. It’s the typical thing women buy in black and wear with a chunky sweater or oversized shirt on top, with sneakers or boots. For me it’s the abandonment of your true self. It’s the zero-effort dressing. Add that to having a degenerate hair-style and no make-up at all and the result is amazingly drab.

Of course of you see an influencer on Instagram with the same look (edited and re-edited) you may think this is cool, but it isn’t. They have a hairdo and make-up and someone has retouched the photo! It doesn’t look so good on you.

It’s time to empower ourselves through fashion, through our choices of outfits, so that the experience of dressing every morning isn’t a hassle, but rather and fun adventure that will make us feel confident and good!

As we said in a recent blog article, we only live once, so run your race, and do it now. And, of course, if we can help you get that extra little dose of confidence and feel-good factor, then we will be happy to help.

If you want to know more about our colors and access looks that could suit you, go and discover our Colorbird Styling Coach.

Listen to NVidia’s interview of Costa Colbert, who for 30 years has explored how artificial and real brains work, and in 2007 developed Modern deep learning techniques for fashion retailers through MadStreetDen.

©I-DYLIC. Article by Eleonore Vadon