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The Very Group: ‘We are not developing technology for technology’s sake’

The Very Group’s digital customer experience (DCX) director, Paul Hornby, has claimed the ecommerce giant is “not developing technology for technology’s sake”, instead focusing its intention on “transforming it with a real customer and commercial focus.”

Speaking to InternetRetailing, the former Matalan ecommerce director revealed artificial intelligence (AI) is a “core tenant” of its strategy.

He claimed no jobs will be impacted by the increased use of AI, instead, the software will be used to “further create brand loyalty”.

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Very is ranked as a Top100 retailer in RXUK Top500 research.

He said: “AI will make it easier to scale the creation of assets that you need to be able to understand what certain items look like on you before buying.”

“We see the opportunity for AI step changing the digital experience because of its ability to scale,” Hornby stated.

He added that since the Covid-19 pandemic, the online-only retailer has seen a continued “robust performance”, reporting a rise in pre-tax profits to £63.9 million for the year ended 2 July 2022.

The company also saw a 12.6% rise in revenues, compared with pre-pandemic trading. However, compared to its best-ever year in 2021, the company’s group sales were down 7.3%.

Commenting on the figures, Hornby claimed: “Having that category flexibility allows us to ride the different bumps in the road, for example, when one product dips, another typically picks up.

“Multi-category flexibility has meant that as customers have been buying in or buying out of different areas, we’ve been able to stay relevant in different ways amid the very economically challenging time.

“The challenges we face are consistent to those every other retailer is facing due to the turbulent economic environment. We know there have been increasing cost-of-living pressures for customers since we have come out of the Covid-19 pandemic,” he said.

As a result, the group launched another 1,000 products into its ‘Everyday’ value range, earlier this year, to help customers affected by the ongoing-cost-of-living crisis.

The new products joined the 700 products already in the lineup including homeware and fashion.

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