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M&S joins the 5% of UK Top500 retailers offering visual search on mobile

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Marks & Spencer (M&S) joins a small but growing number of retailers offering visual search on mobile as a new way to buy.

Launched today, M&S Style Finder is a photo search feature that lives on M&S’ mobile website, enabling customers to seamlessly discover a desired look with just a couple of taps. 

For the initial roll-out, Style Finder is available across womenswear and menswear and customers can easily navigate and filter through thousands of stylish M&S products. Customers can upload an existing photo, or take a new one, of any outfit to reveal similar-looking products available at M&S, offering a quick and easy way to shop online.

Whether customers are inspired by things they see on social media, an outfit in a magazine, something someone is wearing (if you can surreptitiously get a snap!), or a product in-store, the new feature helps them find what they’re looking for in less than 10 seconds, says the retailer.

With 75% of all M&S’s online visits coming from mobile and tablet devices, Style Finder offers a completely new and enhanced shopping experience for busy customers who seek wardrobe inspiration while on the go. 

According to the latest IRUK Top500 research, some 5% of the UK’s Top500 retailers now offer visual search functions on their apps and/or mobile websites, including Asos, Amazon, eBay and H&M.

“We know our customers are busier than ever and are often most inspired when they’re out and about. Style Finder helps customers instantly find what they’re looking for, without the need to manually search and filter through our products,” Jim Cruickshank, Head of Digital Product and UX at M&S, says. “Enhancing the customer experience is central to our digital transformation journey. This is a brilliant example of how we’re becoming more relevant, more often, to our customers who are increasingly shopping online and in particular using mobile devices.”

M&S’s Style Finder tool uses artificial intelligence (AI) to display results with the closest-match. Customers can add additional filters to help them find the perfect product based on personal preferences, such as size, price and colour. 

The visual search technology has been developed with Syte and is available on M& using mobile devices and the initiative is part of M&S’s digital-first strategy, which aims for a third of all Clothing & Home sales to be online by 2022. 

Visual search is growing in popularity as it makes search easier and more intuitive argue its fans. Its use by Asos, Amazon, eBay, H&M and now M&S is likely to also bring it to the mainstream rapidly in 2019, as does the launch in June 2018 of visual search tech by Poq, which will enable many more retailers to build visual search into their apps.

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