Retailers will spend $7.3 billion on artificial intelligence (AI) by 2022, compared with the approximately $2 billion spent in 2018, according to a recent study by Juniper Research. So it’s no wonder that we hear about brands integrating AI-powered systems on a daily basis to cut costs and improve efficiency. The question is: What happens when you integrate multiple solutions by different providers (and perhaps even launching your own) that don’t ‘talk’ to each other?
‘It’s better to have multiple products from one company that speak to each other, rather than using many different vendors which aren’t really connected,” says Callum Bramley, European Representative at Streamoid Technologies - an AI company creating a super-intelligent platform for the fashion industry.
With a team of AI experts and fashion stylists, Streamoid offers a number of solutions which retailers can use across the board - from tagging automation and image recognition to personal style recommendations and making images shoppable - to increase revenue and improve the overall shopping experience for customers. The key areas the company focuses on at the moment are search, styling, and chatbots.
When Abof integrated The Outfitter in its site, it saw 31% increase in basket size, 38% increase in revenue and 6 times higher conversion rates over the course of six months
A main bit of tech, The Outfitter, is an expertly trained recommendation engine that can take any item from a brand’s product feed and automatically build a personalised outfit around it in real-time. It’s neither a collaborative system based on what others bought nor is it a content-based system based on user profiling. The result? It lets online retailers upsell products by making more tailored recommendations around a selected product.
“That’s happening in real-time using data from the retailer’s products, stock, trends and what you’ve bought before,” explains Bramley. “When you go to a site now, you see ‘similar products’ and recommendations. Usually, those are the products that the model in the image is wearing but you might not wear the product you’re looking at in the same way,” says Bramley. “The difficulty for the retailer is that it’s manual - someone has to go through and create that outfit, which is very time-consuming. But styles change and stock too, so The Outfitter can be used to convert an out of stock situation into a sale by showing similar products that are available.”
And it works - when Indian retailer Abof integrated The Outfitter in its site, it saw 31% increase in basket size, 38% increase in revenue and 6 times higher conversion rates over the course of six months. Another interesting finding was that people who clicked on The Outfitter (looking at different styling options for a product, as below) were 2 times more likely to stay engaged with the website.
To ensure that the AI recommendations don’t suggest mixing leopard print pants with a floral top, Streamoid’s is relying on both the technology and its expert team of fashion stylists. “If you’re a fashion company you’re going to want someone who has expertise in fashion, rather than having just an AI vendor,” says Bramley. “There are general style rules that everyone agrees on. What we’re starting to do is use geography for the recommendations. For example, we’ll develop various styles for different places in the world. We can also generate outfits for different occasions and based on individual styles, depending on the retailer. Anything more than that will need access to your personal account so we can see what they’ve bought in the past.”
The onboarding process with Streamoid is pretty straightforward. Once a brand starts using one or more solutions, it simply needs to integrate a couple of lines of codes of the offering into its site. After that, consumers will see a slightly changed user experience, such as more relevant outfit recommendations, the option to search through an image or chat to a bot.
Even though it operates in a crowded market, Streamoid is confident it can be the one-stop platform retailers need for their AI capabilities due to the company-specific focus on fashion and multiple connected offerings. “We try to help retailers across the board. Other AI developers usually have one hero product and that’s it. On top of that, they don’t focus on a particular area, whereas we are specific to a vertical,” says Bramley. “And if retailers decide to develop them [the AI offerings] in house it’s going to cost them millions to hire talent, create these technologies and get the infrastructure in place. And even then, it’s going to take years.”
Among others, the company counts Target, Forever 21 and Simon Carter as clients - retailers which have seen the value of AI in its various forms both internally, and in consumer-facing scenarios. “We mainly speak to Head of Tech or CTOs, because the important thing for them is keep costs down while maintaining the same or better level of service,” says Bramley. And what about others down the line? Are they terrified that an AI solution could make their job obsolete? “It rarely makes people’s jobs redundant, it’s more about retasking them into different roles. These tasks are usually very mundane, so automating them means that people within companies can have more time to be more creative or contribute in a more valuable way to the business.”
For more on the leading technologies in e-commerce, hear Callum Bramley and a number of experts during the second day at FUTR Europe’s Summit, where they will be discussing the next big thing in online retail.
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