It’s time for voice commerce for fashion?

Are you still playing around with stylist bots?

 

Some brands keep trying hard, for instance, Levi’s Virtual Stylist, collaborated with a startup called Mode.ai, to help customers find the perfect-fitting pair of jeans. More are struggling, because current bots have not achieved the kind of high level of humanized and sophisticated interaction with their customer. Even few simply abandoned the experiment entirely, like fashion retailer Everlane or Spring in the US.

 

In China, a typical virtual stylist more or less works like below. You submit a question to the bot, then it generates few tips and purchase options. It is not bad, it is just dull and most important it seems not super cool.

 

 

Anyhow just when we have not fully navigated this trend adroitly, the next generation voice stylist bot, which may not require any typing at all, is rising to make a stride. This year Amazon launched Echo Look, an Alexa-enabled device that has a built-in camera, can take a picture or video of you and later on judge your dressing styles. It has a voice-enabled feature called Style Check, which you can literally ask for weather-based outfit suggestions.

 

 

 

Last month, Poshmark, the largest social marketplace for fashion in the US, debut “Stylist Match” which uses AI to pair shoppers with the right seller stylists that reflect their style preferences. It would create customized, shoppable looks chosen from their inventory for a variety of occasions, from “Date Night” to “Casual Weekend.” It helps women and men who want to improve their look but do not have the time to sift through Poshmark’s 25 million items. According to the founder of Poshmark, the magic of AI and deep learning is in the matching process since there are millions of sellers and customers on its platform, but the actual styling is still done by the real human for now.

 

Above everything else, it is also implementing a voice feature: users are now able to ask Amazon’s Alexa to connect them with a stylist. Just by saying: “Alexa, ask Poshmark to style me.” And, voila! Your Posh styling journey will start.

 

 

That is why many began to speculate voice commerce will be the next big thing. They believe more consumers will use smart speakers such as the Amazon Echo, Google Home and Apple HomePod to make purchases in future. According to Cowen company, as of July 2017, one in seven US consumers owned an Echo device and one in 17 owned a Google Home device. ComScore said 50% of online searches will be voice controlled by 2020. China is not lagging behind, of course. We have Alibaba’s Tmall Genie, JD’s LingLong DingDong, Xiaomi’s MI AI smart speaker etc, all at much cheaper pricing compared with their western counterparts.

 

Voice commerce provides shoppers with an additional route into online shopping. As for fashion industry in which image is the king, fully eliminating visual is impossible; but by adding the voice layer on top for convenience and engagement should certainly empower the whole consumer journey.

 

Author: Cecilia Wu