infoTECH Feature

July 14, 2011

'Imagine' This: Alibaba Bringing Celeb Style Right to Consumers' Closets

More and more companies are finding new ways to make the process of picking out an outfit easier, and more interactive, for consumers. Now, a Chinese e-commerce company has come up with its own version of a virtual personal shopper.

Called “Tuxiang” in Chinese, or “Imagine” in English, the image matching service for apparel has been launched by China’s Alibaba Group to directly link fashionistas to the coveted clothing items they see in celebrity photos or in advertisements.

“We were hoping to give customers another channel to look for products, especially if you have an idea of what you would like to find but don't know the keywords,” Florence Shih, a spokeswoman for Alibaba, told PCWorld.

Here’s how it works: A user uploads a photo to the site from an image link or computer, and then selects the category of product he or she wants to search for. Then, Tuxiang scans its catalog of products in the Taobao Mall and Taobao Marketplace, the company’s online e-commerce websites. If relevant items exist, the different products will be shown as images and include price comparisons.

For now, Alibaba’s image service only features clothes, bags and shoes.

Enhanced retail solutions, much like Alibaba’s, are making their way into the spotlight. Back in January, nG Connect Program debuted its “Virtual Personal Stylist,” which utilizes 4G/LTE (News - Alert) connections, interactive video conferencing and 3D image management software to bring a new type of shopping experience to consumers.

Using white light technology, avatars are created for shoppers through an in-store 3D scanning booth. Once the shopper’s profile is saved in the cloud, it is accessible from any participating retail stores through a “mirror” operated by a Samsung (News - Alert) Galaxy Tab, mobile device or kiosk, which is controlled by a touchscreen. Then, it’s time for the consumer to try on all the latest beauty products and clothing items.

As someone who can’t get enough shopping, this editor certainly hopes this type of innovation makes its way to the U.S. If there’s a way to stop myself from drooling over all of those trendy accessories I see on celebs in gossip magazines and get them into my closet, I’d be one happy shopper!

Tammy Wolf is a TMCnet web editor. She covers a wide range of topics, including IP communications and information technology. To read more of her articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Jamie Epstein


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