Ar­ti­fi­cial In­tel­li­gence: The way For­ward

As ap­parel brands strive to re­main lean and ag­ile and con­stantly meet con­sumer pref­er­ences to be at the top of their game, ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence (AI) gains trac­tion in the ap­parel in­dus­try. Meera War­rier re­ports.

Apparel - - Contents -

A re­port on the grow­ing use of ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence in the ap­parel in­dus­try

The ap­parel in­dus­try, by its very na­ture, is a dy­namic and labour-in­ten­sive one. In­creased de­mand for high-qual­ity ap­parel and the ev­ere­volv­ing de­signs have placed a high pre­mium on com­pa­nies re­main­ing nim­ble. And that level of agility has prompted the use of au­to­mated tools in ap­parel pro­duc­tion now. A re­cent IDC re­search has fore­cast that the AI mar­ket will be worth more than US$47 mil­lion in 2020 vis-à-vis a US$8 mil­lion in­dus­try in 2016.

In the era of in­for­ma­tion tech­nol­ogy, when ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence is tak­ing over ev­ery bas­tion in­clud­ing en­gi­neer­ing, health­care, the ser­vice sec­tor and such, the ap­parel in­dus­try is not far be­hind. The man­u­fac­tur­ers as also the con­sumers are wak­ing up to the ben­e­fits of in­cor­po­rat­ing AI into the pro­cesses for the greater ben­e­fit of all the par­ties in­volved. AI is now deeply em­bed­ded into man­u­fac­tur­ing, es­pe­cially in the sup­ply chain man­age­ment space. Data anal­y­sis, au­to­ma­tion, fi­nance, and lo­gis­tics are wit­ness­ing the wide­spread im­ple­men­ta­tion of AI and more di­vi­sions in man­u­fac­tur­ing are look­ing to adopt AI to dis­rupt re­tail.

Speak­ing about the trend, Subrata Sid­dhanta, Ex­ec­u­tive Pres­i­dent - Re­tail Busi­ness, Nu­cleus Vi­sion says, “The in­dus­try has seen a trend shift in the last few years with the in­va­sion of e-com­merce and m-com­merce and their per­son­alised shop­ping ex­pe­ri­ence. AI has en­abled e-re­tail­ers to of­fer their users a cus­tomised shop­ping ex­pe­ri­ence by be­ing able to track their buy­ing habits, pref­er­ences, and pre­ferred choices. Stud­ies prove that AI-pow­ered cus­tomised shop­ping has helped users nav­i­gate through the mil­lions of choices with ease. Retic­u­lar Ac­ti­vat­ing Sys­tem (RAS), a phe­nom­e­non that throws light on a brain’s at­ten­tion drift­ing to­wards things that mat­ter to it the most, plays a ma­jor role in this and an AI-pow­ered en­gine en­ables this nav­i­ga­tion.”

“Brick-and-mor­tar stores do not have ac­cess to in­tel­li­gent cus­tomer in­sights to help them cus­tomise their shop­per’s ex­pe­ri­ence. More than 90 per cent of the re­tail busi­ness is from phys­i­cal off­line stores, and lack of a per­son­alised ex­pe­ri­ence is con­tribut­ing to churn from brick-and-mor­tar to the e-com­merce space. Nu­cleus Vi­sion with its Pro­pri­etary ION sen­sor tech­nol­ogy strives to bring this in­tel­li­gence to the re­tail in­dus­try by of­fer­ing anony­mous and se­cure in­tel­li­gence with the user’s con­sent to of­fer a per­son­alised shop­ping ex­pe­ri­ence. Nu­cleus Vi­sion’s IoT so­lu­tion pro­vides in­sights into cus­tomer be­hav­iour that was not pre­vi­ously pos­si­ble, such as the abil­ity to track cus­tomer vis­its, to aisles browsed and paths taken in-store, favourite prod­ucts and brands, and pre­dict fu­ture cus­tomer be­hav­iour in-store. This helps cre­ate a per­son­alised cus­tomer ex­pe­ri­ence that leads to greater cus­tomer sat­is­fac­tion,” Sid­dhanta added.


In­ven­tory man­age­ment and map­ping trends are two ar­eas where most play­ers have de­ployed the AI tool to max­imise out­put for their busi­nesses. Speak­ing about the in­clu­sion of AI into the in­dus­try, Varuna Anand, Founder & De­signer, The Splen­dor of Kash­mir shared, “A con­flu­ence of fash­ion, lux­ury and tech­nol­ogy is the in­evitable truth for the fu­ture. The Splen­dor of Kash­mir has been an early mover to lever­age tech­nol­ogy as a growth driver amongst the home-grown lux­ury hand­i­craft brands, pro­mot­ing the art of shawl­mak­ing from Kash­mir. The Splen­dor of Kash­mir is a data-driven com­pany and de­ci­sions re­gard­ing colour se­lec­tion for sea­sons, wo­ven/em­broi­dered, types of shawls, their mo­tifs/pat­terns are based on the ever-evolv­ing con­sumer pref­er­ences. The


com­pany un­der­stands that con­sumer be­hav­iour and prod­ucts are show­cased after anal­y­sis of con­sumer pref­er­ences and buy­ing be­hav­iour over mul­ti­ple sea­sons. Sales are cur­rently be­ing driven by cre­at­ing dig­i­tal ex­pe­ri­ences that bridge on­line and off­line worlds. Un­der­stand­ing con­sumer be­hav­iour is the key to our tar­get­ing and po­si­tion­ing strate­gies, and we are work­ing on per­son­al­is­ing the cus­tomer ex­pe­ri­ence at scale us­ing ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence by un­der­stand­ing cus­tomer-spe­cific needs.”

Ashima Sharma, Fash­ion De­signer and Founder of Ashima S Cou­ture said, “AI is a very ef­fec­tive tool for gen­er­at­ing sales in the ap­parel in­dus­try. The fash­ion in­dus­try these days is thriv­ing dig­i­tally and most cus­tomers are in love with the on­line ap­proach, hence ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence has come into ac­tion. Man­u­fac­tur­ing is also ben­e­fit­ting from AI as it helps to de­ter­mine the de­man­de­mand and sup­ply re­quire­ments.” Shar­maSharm con­tin­ues, “AI helps the de­sign­erde­signe to keep a track of what’s be­ing loved by cus­tomer­scus in cer­tain ar­eas, and it also helps in pro­vid­ing ana un­der­stand­ing about whatwha doesn’t sell much. WWe all are fa­mil­iar with uus­ing fash­ion web­sites webs and the


mys­tery that helps us find what we need is in­deed ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence. Like for in­stance, if you search for an off-shoul­der dress, then AI starts show­ing you sim­i­lar prod­ucts in the ‘you may also like’ sec­tion. Trends are a very im­por­tant as­pect in keep­ing up with the lat­est fash­ion, and with AI, it be­comes eas­ier to pre­dict the rep­e­ti­tion cy­cle of what’s more likely to trend in the fu­ture depend­ing on pre­vi­ous sta­tis­tics. The re­sults are great in terms of sales and pro­duc­tion es­ti­ma­tion.”

With AI and IoT, Nu­cleus Vi­sion is look­ing to bridge the gap be­tween the on­line and the off­line space. Speak­ing about this, Sid­dhanta says, “With this seam­less in­te­gra­tion, the brick-and-mor­tar stores will be able to of­fer per­son­alised shop­ping, track user pref­er­ences, and cus­tomise of­fer­ings to its users. In­stalling ION Sen­sors, im­ple­ment­ing Ma­chine Learn­ing and Deep Learn­ing to un­der­stand buy­ing pat­terns, in­te­grat­ing in­ter­op­er­a­ble loy­alty pro­grammes, and em­bed­ding an on­line-off­line in­ter­face are the ma­jor steps that the re­tail in­dus­try is wit­ness­ing.”


Speak­ing about the im­pact he sees of the wide­spread im­ple­men­ta­tion of AI in the re­tail in­dus­try, Sid­dhanta says, “Ac­cord­ing to a re­cently con­ducted study, more than three quar­ters (76 per cent) of the re­tail­ers em­pha­sise on the use of AI and its rakes, not just in the store but also be­hind the scenes. AI, ro­bot­ics, and IoT have sig­nif­i­cantly im­proved the way mod­ern re­tail trans­acts when com­pared to five years ago. More than 46 per cent of the re­tail­ers show­cased an in­crease in rev­enue, re­duced time in­ter­vals in sup­ply chain man­age­ment and in­creased cus­tomer sat­is­fac­tion.”


The big­gest chal­lenge that the ef­fec­tive­ness of AI will face is the huge de­pen­dence on hu­man in­put into it. The tool can only be as suc­cess­ful as the data in­putted. Sim­i­larly, data safety, pri­vacy and con­trol, in to­day’s time and age, are key buzz­words that make or break a brand if not han­dled del­i­cately.

Crit­ics of AI, or of any kind of tech­no­log­i­cal de­vel­op­ment, have long rued the im­pact of it on em­ploy­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties. The ap­parel in­dus­try is a huge em­ployer of tal­ent, and fears of hu­man in­ter­ven­tion re­duc­ing are rife. The in­dus­try will have to come to­gether sooner or later to al­lay these fears and lay down the new or­der.

The big­gest chal­lenge, as of to­day, how­ever con­tin­ues to re­main the high cost of de­ploy­ing AI into the com­pany pro­cesses. The cost of the tool it­self, train­ing the team to use it ef­fec­tively, con­tin­ual up­keep and main­te­nance are all costs that any en­ter­prise would have to fac­tor into its al­ready bur­geon­ing top line.

“The fu­ture of AI is an ever-grow­ing field. AI is evolv­ing new tech­nolo­gies lately which are surely go­ing to help the ap­parel in­dus­try in the fu­ture. AI can be es­ti­mated to be­come even stronger in terms of trend fore­cast in the near fu­ture which would be of great help to the de­sign­ers,” opines Sharma.

“Seam­less in­te­gra­tion of AI, IoT, and a se­cure means of trans­fer­ring in­for­ma­tion–blockchain–is the fu­ture of re­tail in In­dia. Blockchain will be the means of trans­fer­ring data with the high­est lev­els of se­cu­rity from the user to the re­tailer and vice versa. With the power of in­for­ma­tion, re­tail in the fu­ture will in­te­grate and in­no­vate ways to ex­pe­dite sup­ply chain time­lines, adopt au­to­ma­tion, in­te­grate plat­forms, cre­ate a cus­tomer-cen­tric ap­proach and cre­ate uni­fied shop­ping for in­creas­ing liq­uid­ity.

Nu­cleus Vi­sion re­lies on AI to seg­re­gate users into seg­ments based on Re­cency, Fre­quency, and Mon­e­tary. AI aids the pro­pri­etary tech­nol­ogy in fa­cil­i­tat­ing cross-func­tional pro­mo­tions, and mon­etis­ing cus­tomer in­for­ma­tion solely for their ben­e­fit,” con­cludes Sid­dhanta.

With more and more com­pa­nies adopt­ing AI into their pro­cesses, it seems like there are a lot of good things in store for the ap­parel in­dus­try.

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