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Brief Published: 25 Nov 2014

Image-Recognition E-Tail Apps

Macy's Image Recognition App

Mobile commerce is predicted to account for 33% of Christmas online sales in the US this year, according to NY-based analytics firm Custora. In response, two smart American department stores – Macy's and Neiman Marcus – have integrated image recognition technology into their apps to create much swifter e-commerce experiences in readiness for the festive season.

Macy's has collaborated with London and San Francisco-based visual search specialist Cortexica on its new app feature. It enables users to take a photo of an item they like with their smartphone to find similar products in Macy's online inventory, and purchase them within the app. The new technology allows consumers to buy the items they see around them – whether it's their friend's outfit or a product spotted in a fashion magazine – almost instantaneously.

Neiman Marcus's app, dubbed 'Snap. Find. Shop', was created in collaboration with Canadian tech start-up, Slyce. It works in the same way as the Macy's app, by blending image recognition with the brand's product inventory. The search is currently limited to shoes and bags. However, the retailer says it will consider additional fashion categories in the near future if the current tool proves successful.

Visual search technologies are quickly gaining traction, as consumers become more accustomed to the prospect of shopping on socially focused, digital image-sharing platforms such as Instagram or Pinterest. To find out more about monetising social networks, see Instagram for Retail Brands and The Social Sell in our Anywhere Retailing Industry Trend.

For more on creating streamlined retail experiences, including Slyce, see Tap to Transact: No-Fuss Purchasing in The Streamlined Sell, part of our Roaming Retail Industry Trend. See also Start-Pause-Go: Retail in Hyper-Flow, Shoppable Content and Amazon's Voice-Controlled Speaker.