China’s Zhiyi Tech raises $100 million to help fashion brands predict top sales – TechCrunch
In China, live promotion is becoming a popular way for brands and influencers to reach consumers, challenging the traditional e-commerce model where users browse static images, read reviews and spend orders. Stemming from this trend, tools are helping brands better predict what and how to sell through their live commerce stores.
One player providing such software is Zhiyi Tech, a four-year-old company based in Hangzhou, Alibaba’s backyard, and run by two Carnegie Mellon PhDs specializing in artificial intelligence. The company noted it recently raised nearly $100 million through three funding rounds led respectively by GL Ventures – the startup arm of Hillhouse Capital, Zoo Capital, Xianghe Capital and CE Innovation Capital.
Other investors in the round included existing shareholders Legend Capital and Yonghua Capital. The product is added to the “tens of millions of dollars“Zhiyi came from a Series A round in 2018.
Zhiyi works by scouring the internet for styles, including those from Instagram influencers and fashion shows, and turning them into actionable information for designers, such as color, material or trending pattern. Besides that, it analyzes clothing sales on e-commerce sites like Alibaba’s Taobao marketplace and Douyin, China’s version of TikTok, and breaks down the bestsellers. Finally, it has an ecosystem of vendors that retailers can tap into. In other words, Zhiyi is building a one-stop solution for brands and influencers making money through live commerce. With the new funding, Zhiyi plans to hire more staff and conduct product R&D activities.
Zhiyi primarily serves brands in China at the moment, but the change in the fashion industry he represents has a wider global reach. The success of global fast-fashion e-commerce start-up Shein has helped spark the idea of “fashion on demand”: brands design and manufacture clothes based on real-time consumer sentiment and fashion trends rather than trying to build a supply chain that can sell. A series of online fashion startups, such as Cider, are working to replicate Shein’s success by harnessing big data to predict consumer behavior around the world and tapping into the rich supply chain resources of the China.