Consumer fashion may be among the most unpredictable markets on the planet, but one startup in India has created a demand sensing platform based on artificial intelligence (AI) that combines the brilliance of data scientists with seasoned industry experts to ferret out trends with uncanny accuracy. The idea is to close the gap between supply and demand.
“We help companies create demand-driven fashion forecasts from consumer data across a holistic value chain,” Ganesh Subramanian, founder and CEO at Stylumia, said. “Our demand sensing engine collects and analyzes publicly available global data to rank product trends, providing fashion designers, retail buyers, and merchandisers with a much deeper understanding of real-time consumer demand signals.”
More Profitable and Sustainable Business
Forecasting fickle consumer appetites for unseen products has long stymied the most experienced minds in the fashion world. Stylumia can reveal breaking trends, allowing people to make design and merchandising decisions perfectly in sync. This can reduce under- and overbuying.
According to Subramanian, the typical Stylumia customer has improved the prediction accuracy of style and color levels by up to 30% and increased sales and revenue between 25% to 50%, compared to the performance of products not designed and merchandized using the platform. Customers have also reduced excess inventory and carbon footprint levels by an aggregated average of up to 40%.
“When products are selling well, companies have less stock and are able to lower their carbon footprint because they’re using fewer resources while generating the same amount of revenue,” he said. “Since our founding, we have reduced the number of garments that our customers have produced by over 60 million while their sales and profits have grown.”
Consumer Intelligence Research on Steroids
From its headquarters in India to hubs in Australia, the U.S., and the UK, Stylumia’s teams work with fashion, sports, and lifestyle brands that represent companies of all sizes worldwide.
Instead of brainstorming solely by intuition, designers and buyers log in to their personalized portal to storyboard ideas using Stylumia’s AI-fueled algorithm or their own images for design inspiration. As they select colors, materials, patterns, and other product features, Stylumia instantly surfaces trending demands against the designer’s ideas. They can view similar products, see where selling levels are highest, and save and share their ideas with colleagues.
For retail merchandisers, the tool improves forecast accuracy for better assortment planning down to the local level. They can see which sizes, colors, and styles are most popular by geography. Subramanian added that the platform is not just for large consumer brands.
“We’re democratizing intelligence for small and midsize companies that can use these insights for their growth too, bringing the right products to the right geographies at the right time,” he said.
Data-Driven Growth for the Fashion Industry
Subramanian has over 20 years of experience with global brands in the fashion and retail industry. He founded Stylumia while working at India’s largest online fashion retailer.
“We were exploring how to take advantage of the tremendous amounts of data from online retail and I thought, why not create a platform that would help any fashion brand retailer in the world,” he said. “We wanted to change the industry’s culture from intuitive, hit-or-miss decision-making to an economically sound, sustainable strategy with real-world benefits.”
SAP.iO and Stylumia Foster Alignment Around Holistic Intelligence
Having participated in other startup programs, Subramanian was impressed with the support he received as a member of the SAP.iO Foundry Berlin data and analytics accelerator. The two companies are exploring ways to integrate Stylumia into SAP’s omnichannel planning solutions, especially for assortment optimization and fashion demand forecasting.
“The amount of time SAP spent with us was unique. We learned so much from their experts about marketing and selling our product, and working with their ecosystem,” he said. “Given SAP’s dominance in the fashion retail industry and the company’s intelligent enterprise vision, this is a great opportunity for us to add value with our external data for intelligent demand forecasting.”
Tech-Driven Fashion Is a Culture Shift
If COVID-19 was a stress test for Stylumia’s demand forecasting strengths, it passed with flying colors. At the height of the pandemic crisis last year, one omnichannel retailer had sufficient data from the platform within six to eight weeks to accurately predict changed consumer demands with 95% accuracy.
“As a team of like-minded fashion professionals and data scientists, we empathize with the challenges designers and retailers face. We designed Stylumia to support both preseason planning as well as unexpected in-season events, like the pandemic,” said Subramanian. “It’s an important cultural shift for the fashion industry, using technology to add insights that augment human decisions, powering sustainable growth.”
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This story originally appeared on SAP BrandVoice on Forbes.