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Introducing VIPO: computer vision and AI to improve customer knowledge and user experience for retail and fashion brands

VIPO

A new EIT Digital-supported project is going to hit the market. As Europe’s innovation engine, EIT Digital has put together the University of Barcelona, Bright Cape, and the University of Rennes1, which led the activity - to leverage the innovation proposal of VIPO, a startup combining computer vision and Artificial Intelligence to help retail and fashion companies customize their users’ experience.

The retail industry is changing at unprecedented speed, bringing along big challenges and opportunities. The retail market will need to address changes in consumer behaviour: user experience, the main driver of purchase decisions, is deeply influenced by technological progress and customers are also starting to focus more on responsible consumption.

According to the Consumer Insights Survey 2019, elaborated by PwC, more and more people shop in physical stores compared to other purchasing channels.  The percentage of consumers shopping there at least once a week has grown 48% in the last four years and consumers are willing to pay 10% more for offers and personalized experience.

For this reason, VIPO was born in 2017 as a research project in the framework of the Horizon 2020 innovation program with the aim of generating new marketing strategies, using technology to create intelligence and lovemark. It was then incorporated as a startup in 2019, following the launch by EIT Digital of the namesake innovation activity.

VIPO solutions were developed using computer vision as well as artificial intelligence to correlate data that not only generates user knowledge, but also an innovative and valuable experience for the customer. Hardware-wise, VIPO’s main component is a 49’’ LCD totem with a built-in web camera, which retailers can place in their point of sale: customers interact with the device by touching the screen and receive fashion advice based on their appearance and the in-store inventory.

William Bernal"Our system processes the client's image and then generates a data file with gender, age, colours, outfit. It also records the customer's feedback on fashion proposals. This information helps stores understand which products from their catalogue have more relevance for their business," VIPO's CEO and activity leader, William Bernal, says.

All the analysis is completely anonymous; it is run in each totem unit and the result is stored locally, so that it meets all GDPR's requirements.

In line with the project's scope, VIPO has developed two different solutions. The first captures demographic information and fashion preferences from retail and fashion customers. It also provides outfits recommendations back to the customer based on their fashion style. The second, includes the integration with the company's business intelligence (BI) systems and enables the creation of a fully automated style according to the person's fashion style and fashion trend. By combining all these features, VIPO is able to offer a fully-fledged platform to generate business intelligence and increase in-store users' engagement.

Finally, VIPO helps companies improve their ROI (Return of Investment) on metrics such as the sales increase in-store, the increase of the average sales ticket, savings in inventory management, among others. It also improves the measurement of ROX (Return of Experience) with indicators such as the increase of the average time in the store, satisfaction on the experience and customer loyalty.

VIPO's products are initially hitting the market in France, Spain, and Colombia, countries where the fashion industry is working together with retail companies on redesigning the shopping experience concept and where major customers have already been identified. They will later be proposed also in other countries. The startup's business model is based on a monthly service fee, plus a set-up fee for the "premium" service, which includes the integration with the company's BI systems.

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