Alibaba jumps on ‘toilet revolution’ with virtual mirrors

By Natasha Spencer

- Last updated on GMT

Alibaba jumps on ‘toilet revolution’ with virtual mirrors

Related tags: Retailing

The Chinese e-commerce heavyweight installs the hallmark of experiential buying in shopping centre toilets.

Transforming a typically non-exciting part of the physical shopping experience, Alibaba plans to change that for Chinese consumers by installing high-tech mirrors in toilets, reports Alizila, Alibaba Group’s news site.

Sprucing up toilets

Alibaba’s B2C online shopping platform, Tmall, and centre operator, Intime, have teamed up to lead this new “retail-driven model for restrooms”,​ Alizila reported.

Showcased at the West Lake Intime Shopping Mall in Hangzhou City, China, the first “Smart Ladies’ Room”​ represents a new age of retail where interactive and digital experiences extend beyond brands' brick and mortar stores.

This follows Alibaba’s widespread attempts to appeal to consumers visiting shopping centres by optimising the entire shopping experience. In January 2018, for example, Tmall and Intime, unveiled their smart nursing room​, designed for mothers and babies to provide a relaxing environment away from the main hustle and bustle of shopping centres.

AI-powered mirrors

These virtual mirrors feature augmented reality technology that controls digital screens. This then enables beauty lovers to try on cosmetics favourites including lipstick, eyeshadow and eyeliners before making a purchase.

Accompanying vending machines also offer beauty and feminine hygiene products from a selection of high-street well-known brands including Benefit, Lancome, Elizabeth Arden and Shu Uemera.

National agenda

With its first smart bathroom already rolled out, Alibaba is now focusing on opening its Hangzhou’s Wulin Intime centre, which is currently undergoing renovations. As part of its strategic plans, it also aims to roll-out these AI-inspired capabilities in restrooms in shopping centres, hotels and popular tourist spaces.

Alibaba's latest digital initiative is in keeping with China’s ‘toilet revolution’​, which sees the government’s National Tourism Administration strive to build cleaner bathrooms and improve sanitation throughout the country.

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