Mobile Commerce Insider Featured Article

November 20, 2014

Macy's New iOS App Knows What You Want with Cortexica Image Recognition

It's always nice to have the kind of shopping experience where what one is looking for can be quickly found, but that kind of shopping experience doesn't always come to pass. When it does, it often doesn't come easily, making it a pretty substantial issue for a lot of shoppers. Online shoppers here proves no different, and anyone who introduces tools to make that shopping experience better are likely to have the gratitude of the shopping public. Macy's, meanwhile, is looking to do just that thanks to its new iOS app for the holiday shopping season, which will include a mobile image recognition system known as findSimilar, a system driven by Cortexica.

Part of a development between Cortexica and the Macy's Idea Labs in San Francisco, the photo search system allows customers to take a picture with an iPhone, and then route that picture through the system to find other, similar items to the one photographed. By doing this, Macy's is essentially allowing any image to become “shopable”, in that all it takes is a picture to determine whether or not said image is on hand for a customer to purchase. Additionally, since the number of clicks is reduced to get from search to buy, the process becomes easier, and when processes are easier, one major objection to making purchases outright is lost. Plus, users get access to a wider body of material; instead of just walking into a store and seeing what's on hand, or checking a website, users can actually go so far as to—as explained by Macys.com president Kent Anderson—take a picture of a friend or a celebrity who may be wearing something a user likes, and can see similar products currently available from Macy's.

This is neither a first outing for Macy's or for Cortexica. Cortexica has worked with several other companies, including Kate Bosworth's Style Thief app as well as the Cortexica Wine Finder, later rebranded the Tesco Wine Finder, according to reports. Additionally, Macy's is well-known for putting apps and other tools to work. Last year, the company was working with an app to track the locations of shoppers in stores. But what all of this shows, and the new work between Macy's and Cortexica really just drives home, is that businesses have to be willing to use the tools on hand in order to get shoppers in the game and get profits coming in. It's clear that Macy's is willing to make this leap and put out the tools that shoppers may want. It may not always work, but it's making the effort.

With the holiday shopping season largely in full swing—some, admittedly, are holding out for the “official” start on Black Friday—there's clearly a need for this kind of thing. Retailers are eager to get the most return on advertising, on store staffing levels, on materials stocked, and so on; so having the means to measure responses is important. Using a tool like this allows users to better define just what it is that's desired, so Macy's, instead of putting out a bunch of merchandise and hoping it finds buyers, can better tailor its offerings to what people have a clear interest in purchasing. This could be a very big move for Macy's, and though only January's arrival will tell how well it worked for the holiday shopping season, it could be just the start of something even bigger than Black Friday.




Edited by Maurice Nagle




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