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How AI Is Being Used in the Apparel Industry

Product developers and store managers in the apparel industry are battling in a difficult environment. They often have to work hard to address issues such as excess inventory, and sales slowing down without discounting. In addition to these challenges, the role of physical stores is becoming blurred due to the influence of e-commerce.
Recently, there is a trend to introduce AI, and the demand for forecasting by AI has already become a standard in the apparel industry.
However, you may be thinking, “We have not introduced AI yet,” or “We would like to utilize AI, but first we would like to know what kind of case studies exist…”
In this article we’ll examine relevant examples of AI applications in various global markets, as well as what will change in the field with the introduction of AI. Finally, we will also predict AI trends in the apparel industry.
Discover how you can harness the power of AI to maximize the potential of the apparel industry.
Communication Business Avenue has been helping some of the world’s largest companies to integrate call center systems and digital communication tools for the past 16 years.

Table of Contents

Challenges Facing the Apparel Industry in 2022​

What are some of the unique challenges facing the apparel industry in 2022? Each of the challenges and the AI-based solutions are described below:

Demand Is Off

Apparel companies predict future trends, such as, “This dress will be in fashion next season,” or “This color will be popular next summer”. If the predictions are correct, business performance improves, but if they are not, inventory increases and sales slump.
Recently, two AI technologies have been attracting attention in order to improve the accuracy of forecasts.

Time Series AI: AI Image Recognition Analysis

Time Series AI is a technology that can analyze sales data from the past to the present and statistically predicts the next demand.

AI Image Recognition Analysis is a technology that predicts the next trend by looking at pictures of products that have been popular. For example, it looks at photos of jackets, shirts, and pants that have been popular in the past and analyzes them based on tags such as fabric, pattern, and how they are worn. It then combines the analysis results with time series analysis to suggest the next trend and products that will sell.

Offline and Online Customer Service

Consumers expect the best of both worlds: they value the wait-free buying experience of e-commerce, but they also value the “customer experience” of consulting with store associates in real stores and getting suggestions on clothes that look good on them.
A New Innovations survey found that more than 65% of respondents want a fusion of human customer service and digitization. In other words, they want to experience both the convenience of eCommerce and the customer service of physical stores.
The apparel industry must address issues such as providing customer service that links offline (Physical stores) with online support.
Interactive AI Avatars for customer service is attracting attention as a means of integrating offline and online customer service.

AI Case Studies in Global Apparel Industry

The challenges facing the apparel industry can be divided into two categories: demand forecasting and offline and online customer service.
How are these two issues being solved by AI in other countries? We will introduce case studies from New Zealand, the U.S., and Israel.

Startup Finesse is using AI to predict the next demand; AI analyzes fashion trends on the web and predicts future trends; 3D modeling software and AI work together to produce products with a high probability of selling in small batches within 4 weeks! The company has a strong track record in the fashion industry.

Digital Human Product Experts 

UneeQ’s interactive AI digital human was employed to explain products during the 2019 New Zealand Fashion Week. The digital human will provide product descriptions from the Manahou website, named after New Zealand fashion model Manahou Mackay.

Virtual Fitting Rooms Using Zeekit

Demand for virtual fitting rooms is growing along with the penetration of e-commerce. This service allows users to virtually try on clothes they see online from the comfort of their own home.

With Walmart’s acquisition of Zeekit, the multi-national retail corporation now offers a service that lets you dress an avatar that looks exactly like you in selected fashion items.

Los Angeles-based fashion tech StyleScan has developed virtual try-on software. The system can render an outfit to a user in one second.The technology can be integrated into existing fashion applications, making it highly versatile. Currently, the system only supports still images, but we are developing it so that it can also support video in the future.

What Are The AI Trends in The Apparel Industry?

First, let’s look at AI trends in physical retail stores. To cope with staff shortages, operations and personnel will become more efficient.
Avatar customer service, such as interactive AI digital humans, will become mainstream, and unmanned stores will increase. AI-based marketing will take root, with traffic line analysis cameras analyzing visitors to stores.
What will be the AI trend in eCommerce? In the future, virtual fitting rooms will become commonplace. Furthermore, when purchasing clothes online, it may become possible to communicate with fashion brands and designers using AI and VR.
The role of physical stores will change dramatically in the near future. What used to be primarily a service and product purchase from store clerks will also take on the role of a traffic line to e-commerce. Consumers will be able to enjoy the service experience and purchase in both physical stores and online.
In the future, the apparel industry must utilize AI while promoting omni-channel service provision. It will be necessary to enhance digital communication by linking physical stores, eCommerce, Social Media, and AI analysis.
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