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Marks & Spencer launches Style Finder photo search

Marks & Spencer launched Style Finder, a photo search feature on its mobile website, enabling shoppers to discover a desired look in what it says is ‘just a couple of taps’.

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.

M&S says whether they are inspired by fashion finds on social media, an outfit in a magazine or a product in-store, the new feature helps them find what they’re looking for in less than 10 seconds.

The tool uses artificial intelligence to display results with the closest-match. Customers can add additional filters to help them find a product based on personal preferences, such as size, price and colour.

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.

The visual search technology has been developed with Syte and is available on M&S.com using mobile devices.

For the initial roll-out, Style Finder is available across womenswear and menswear and customers can easily navigate and filter through thousands of M&S products.

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

Jim Cruickshank, Head of Digital Product and UX at M&S, said: “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.

“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.”

Mobile Optimisation

Europeans searching & shopping online for UK brands on the up

The British Retail Consortium’s (BRC) Google Online Retail Monitor shows that overseas mobile searches for UK brands grew by 17% YoY in Q2 2018, up from 13% in Q1.

The North & Yorkshire represented the highest portion of Google searches in Q2, at 26%, higher than Greater London’s 23%.

In terms of retail categories, beauty saw YoY growth of 10% for UK mobile users in Q2 2018, though, this is lower than the 10% seen in Q1.

Home & Garden saw the highest YoY growth for Overseas mobile searches with growth 29% YoY in Q2 2018.

Italy demonstrated the strongest year on year growth in searches for UK brands from the EU, reporting 31% growth in Q2 2018.

Helen Dickinson OBE, Chief Executive at the British Retail Consortium, said: The scorching summer sun has inevitably meant that online searches for home and garden products – like barbeques and garden furniture – were among the top search terms across Europe and beyond. At the same time, end of school term has created a surge in searches for prom dresses and computer games to entertain kids during the long holidays.

“Online retail search activity is maintaining its growth trajectory, being driven by consumers moving online to shop. Given this growth, some retailers will be looking at the opportunities for exporting offers to other countries.

“These trends will continue as retailers continue to invest in the evolution of their online offering for shoppers.”

BRC Smartphones

Retail search growth driven by smartphones

The latest data from the British Retail Consortium (BRC) and Google points to a significant spike in retail-related online searches in 2Q17, driven by smartphone users.

In the UK, retail search volumes on smartphones increased 26% in the second quarter of 2017 compared with the same quarter a year ago.

For all devices across the UK, search volumes maintained year-on-year growth of 7% in the second quarter of 2017.

Interestingly, beauty was the most searched for sector by overseas consumers on mobile devices, reporting growth of 42% in the second quarter of 2017 compared with the same quarter a year ago.

Apparel remained a popular sector for overseas consumers on mobile devices, increasing 38% in the second quarter of 2017 compared with the same quarter a year ago.

Estonia continued to demonstrate the strongest appetite for UK retailers, reporting a 77% growth on mobile devices in Q2 2017 compared with the same quarter a year ago.

Helen Dickinson OBE, Chief Executive at the British Retail Consortium, said: “The growth of UK retail searches online in the second quarter of 2017 remains unchanged on the previous year, although smartphones are increasingly becoming the dominant device for online browsing and therefore the main contributor to this growth. The increase in mobile search volumes over this period is consistent with the upward trend in online non-food sales growth.

“Beauty brands in particular continue to attract interest from overseas as well as UK consumers, which put the category firmly at the top of the growth rankings. It would appear that this could have translated to some extent into product sales, as health and beauty products ranked second highest in online sector performance over the three-month period.”