Danish fashion retailer Bestseller has opened smart stores in Shenzhen and Guangzhou for its Jack & Jones and Vero Moda brands.
Facial-recognition technology from Tencent’s Youtu Lab is used to register shoppers in store, enrolling them in WeChat Pay’s AI Club. This means they can pay without the need for wallets or phones.
And the automated systems are not only replacing cashiers – sales assistants are also redundant as store visitors receive customised recommendations for Bestseller clothes and accessories they might want to try on virtually.
Bestseller says the first day the tech was used, the gross revenue from customers who paid via facial recognition accounted for more than 80 per cent of turnover. The total store income that day improved by 40 per cent.
It is a new approach for the fashion industry, which is following in steps of smart supermarkets and other stores from companies such as Alibaba, Amazon and JD.com.
Tencent also has its eye on other retail segments. At its global partner conference in November, COO Ren Yuxin said the company aims to provide smart retail services like big data, cloud computing and AI to brands and offline retailers to help brick-and-mortar stores transform into smart, digital ones that can “really think”.
Bestseller head of digital sales Liu Dongyue says customers expect a “more personalised, more entertaining and more convenient” experience when buying in the store, which is why fashion brands need help from big data.” So it is not so much about automated payment as about user data.
Vqudo, a WeChat marketing software provider, says facial recognition enables stores to match customers with their WeChat ID, which contains information about their buying habits as well as social data.