How a Chinese startup is powering Uniqlo’s digital innovation?

China is leading the retail technology in the world driven by the “New Retail” force initiated by e-commerce titan Alibaba and becoming a fertile soil breeding some very vibrant local startups. Today a local startup Applesay is accelerating the digital innovation for the fast fashion giant Uniqlo in China.

It all started with a small yet extremely successful project of launching AI-powered voice chatbot on Uniqlo’s Wechat account and mini-program to help its loyal customers’ search items. And unlike many other dumb chatbots in the market, its responses to customer’s voice requests are instant, efficient and above all with the accuracy rate of 93%. The chatbot is not aiming for chatting, but for providing precise pre-sale guidance and boosting conversion rate.

For instance, if you say:

I would like to buy my mother a lightweight BlockTech coat, better in red? around RMB100 or at discount?

It is able to turn your voice requests into text, then extract the key meaning regarding your purchase target, style, collection line, product category, color, price range, promotion, and quickly matching the meaning with all relevant products for customers to select.

Behind this powerful solution is the startup’s award-winning NSLP (natural sales language processing) algorithm built upon its own comprehensive fashion industry knowledge graph. Of course, for Uniqlo project, it needs to add one extra layer of the knowledge graph on top specifically developed for the brand by training the AI from Uniqlo’s e-commerce data, ERP data, SKU labels, educational materials for its human sales associates etc.

Now the startup is able to collect and analyze over 30,000 voice messages from Uniqlo Wechat channel every month, generate extremely valuable customer insights and even gradually take over the responsibility of BI for Uniqlo China.

This AI chatbot brain is also implanted into the digital signage inside Uniqlo’s offline store in Shenzhen catering to the brand’s strong urge for brick&mortar upgrade&innovation. Basically, it transforms a conventional touch screen into a voice-awakening interactive mirror. It is said Uniqlo is going to deploy this solution to its China offline stores on a full scale.

The better part of the solution is its AI algorithm can be so versatile to expand into other vertical industry, not just limited to fashion. In fact, the startup has been serving sectors like online English education for customer service and analysis of customer intentions.

This Shanghai-based, two years old startup has raised over RMB10 million during the Pre-A round so far and is already profitable, thanks again to its bonanza project with Uniqlo.


By: Cecilia Wu