There was a time when e-commerce seemed futuristic but today, online shopping is transforming the market. Fashion retailers, fashion brands and marketplaces for clothing are spending millions on product digitisation, photography and digital marketing to sell their products more efficiently and earn huge profits. With consumer and retailer data being fragmented, delivering desired customer experience remains a challenge. Better information allows retailers to consolidate product information across channels, enabling improved product discovery to catch the attention of buyers.
Vue.ai, an artificial intelligence (AI) startup of the retail industry, announced the commercial launch of the world’s first AI-based human model generator, VueModel, to solve this problem, in March 2018. It is a vertical of the company Mad (mind able devices) Street Den, founded by Ashwini Asokan and Anand Chandrasekaran in 2016. The company’s headquarters are located in Redwood City, California, while its office in India is in Chennai. It serves retailers in the US and the UK as well as in India, the Middle East and Latin America, who mostly work online.
As cutting edge as AI technology is, the process, on the contrary, is extremely user-friendly. One has to simply upload product images. AI analyses the image of the garment laid out on a flat surface that is provided to it and generates on-model fashion imagery, while also predicting how the garment would fit. Unlike pre-existing solutions in the industry, which use 3D body scanners that require special hardware, Vue.ai uses generative adversarial network (GAN), a class of machine learning systems that is extremely efficient when it comes to generating realistic images. Algorithms developed by its neuroscientists and image-recognition experts help AI generate different human body types and visualise the garment on the body. Once the image is generated, it can be downloaded and used as required.
This is a highly cost-effective method that generates high-quality and consistent product catalogue images, allowing retailers to scale their business and save time. Customisations to enhance the entire process include personalising the model’s pose, body type and accessories to cater to every customer segment.
Further, other products such as VueTag, VueStyle, VueCommerce, VueMail, VueFind and VueStudio are offered by the company for automating product tagging, personalised recommendations, visual search using photos as input and customised product discovery. When it comes to offline retailing, computer vision is applied in warehouse activities. These features are important to ensure that the customer finds the desired item.
The company already counts top-notch fashion retailers, global marketplaces and brands such as Macy’s, Levi’s, Diesel, Zilingo, Villoid, Mercadolibre and TATA CLiQ as its clients. It recently got funded by Falcon Edge Capital with participation from Japan’s Global Brain and existing backer Sequoia Capital India. The competition does not seem to lessen anytime soon with companies like Amazon and Alibaba using AI to personalise products and services for shoppers.
With increasing revenue, the company plans to further build its team and expand itself in terms of both locations and development areas such as advertising and marketing content to get higher engagement. This would lead to human taggers getting eventually replaced, but it does not imply that curators would lose their jobs. Their work will be managerial as manually performed functions switch to automation. Seeing the demand and the growing trust of sellers and buyers alike, it would not be inaccurate to say that the future of retail and garment industry lies in consumer experience, and AI is out of the labs to provide it.