AI, Big Data Could Change the Way We Design and Shop for Clothes

Sourcing Journal

H&M is losing customers—can Big Data bring them back into the fold?

The Swedish apparel retailer certainly has had a hard time of it lately. Sweatshirt controversies and delivery problems aside, foot traffic has nosedived, sending H&M’s operating profit careening 62 percent in the three months through February and yoking the fast-fashion chain with $4.3 billion in unsold clothing. Shares have slipped a precipitous 56 percent over the past three years.

But artificial intelligence could help H&M engineer a reversal of fortune, the Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday. To work its way out of this slump, the retailer is said to be employing algorithms to scrutinize store receipts, returns and loyalty-card histories so it can better customize its inventory at individual locations: a bigger selection of tank tops and skinny jeans in one store, perhaps, or more cashmere sweaters and pencil skirts in another.

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