By Babita Jain, CEO and Founder, ‘House of Prana’
June 12 2021: Fashion enthusiasts know how difficult it is to keep up with the constantly changing fashion trends. E-commerce is leading the way for Indian startup ecosystems, fashion websites are also exploding with social media such as Instagram, Facebook, etc. It is interesting to know that Indian e-commerce touched the $100 billion mark, out of which about 35% is owned by the fashion industry.
In today’s world, technology has changed how everything works, and all industries including the fashion retail industry are taking advantage from it. Artificial intelligence (AI) is the process of analyzing data, identifying patterns, and performing tasks in an automated manner, which would otherwise require human intervention. Artificial intelligence has had great applications in the fashion retail industry and is changing all aspects of this industry which always tends to look forward and everyone is in a race to create the next trend. The easy availability of big data is one of the main reasons driving this change.
The rapid improvements brought to the online fashion retail industry by technology have led to a race amongst the fashion industry leaders, who are constantly trying to improve their systems and make the best use of the technology. They are all constantly confronted with the challenges of sustainable growth and are constantly inclining towards artificial intelligence to rise over the challenges and provide customers with a customer service that is truly extraordinary and next-gen. Several AI startups are working in a close-knit manner with the fashion industry, to identify upcoming trends, automate repetitive tasks that are often major cash burners, while working on making the platform truly intuitive.
Companies are increasingly investing in collecting data from diverse sources to make their systems smarter, and target customers with relevant ads that would help them upsell as well as attracting new first-time customers. Fashion brands are using technology to better understand consumer needs and are designing apparel for them.
Fashion brands are using AI and Machine learning (ML) to identify the rapid changes in fashion trends and are focusing their resources on being the fastest ones to bring these products to the market compared to the “traditional” model. Bigger e-commerce companies like Amazon have been using AI and ML for a long time, but even smaller brands are working on making their system AI-powered to better understand and meet the needs of their consumers.
Moreover, machine learning is also helping the fashion industry with inventory management. They help evaluate patterns in the data, predict the demands of the consumers for products, and thus help the company with having the right inventory, and not have excessive stock of some items or even have too much shortage of some other items, thereby helping reduce wastage and improve overall cost ratio. In short, AI for fashion is transforming traditional fashion companies in a drastic manner. Making them re-evaluate their design and manufacture process for all their products as well as how they are marketed and shipped to the customer. This revolution has been possible by the power of big data sets that are constantly getting better and the algorithms that are getting smarter at understanding consumer patterns.
Though there are several ways the fashion industry has been completely transformed by the integration of AI, apart from the ones discussed above, here are some of the top applications:
Improving product discovery – Often consumers are excited by a dress that they have seen their favorite star wear in a movie or even on Instagram, AI-powered image search can help find the exact dress online at a retail store which would be able to meet the needs of their consumers thus making them happy and potentially bringing new customers to the company.
Smart product description – Another challenge is to show relevant results to consumers when they are searching with keywords. The way this is done by is using AI to introduce relevant tags to pictures of dresses which can help with making finding them a lot easier. Without AI, doing this manually is a very time-consuming and intensive task and requires a lot of resources investing a lot of time.
Making relevant recommendations – Proper recommendations help customers find similar products and are very critical for organizations since it helps them not only upsell but also bring in new customers. AI can help with this since it can analyze smartly what the user has searched for, use his history, and make more real-time and precise recommendations to the users.
Improved customer service – Customer service is a critical part of all retail businesses, and due to AI smart chatbots are able to answer a lot of the questions of consumers, thereby saving a lot of costs or even potentially losing customers. Moreover, AI has enabled companies to take in the demographics of the consumers and suggest them the best size that will fit them thus making their life easier, reducing returns, and making customers happier.
Improved inventory management – AI-based predictive analytics has helped fashion retailers to automate the process of understanding consumer behavior and plan their inventory accordingly. It also helps retailers identify their products that are most liked as well as disliked by customers and plan their inventory accordingly.
Thus, we can see how AI has proven to already provide great benefits in the Indian retail industry and it has shown great potential to make even more cost savings as well as increased sales for the companies. We can say at this point that AI has already started changing the fashion industry in very big ways, but it has a lot more to offer and will make the fashion industry even more powerful than it already is.
Babita founded The House of Prana, a lifestyle, fashion, artwork and home accessories brand in 2018