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Hammerson rolls out visual search technology

Hammerson has completed a successful trial of a visual search tool which allows customers to search for products from an image taken on their phone.

The app was trialled at Hammerson's Brent Cross shopping centre over two months to understand if customers found it valuable. Feedback was positive, with 90% of shoppers finding the app useful and 92% saying they would use it again. Meanwhile, 94% of customers said the app would encourage them to visit different stores.

The 'FindSimilar' technology uses artificial intelligence image recognition and was created by a company called Cortexia, having been already used by retailers including John Lewis, Zalando and Macy's.

"The success of the FindSimilar trial at Brent Cross demonstrates Hammerson’s leadership in retail innovation. Incorporating digital technology into our shopping centres is a key part of our brand experience strategy and this is a great example of our approach in action," said David Atkins, chief executive of Hammerson.

"Our own research shows that on an average shopping journey customers use a combination of offline and online shopping channels, and initiatives such as FindSimilar are designed to further blur the lines between the two, providing a convenient and engaging shopping experience."

Iain McCready, CEO of Cortexica, added: "We are delighted to have completed this beta trial with Hammerson. The application of our technology to a shopping centre environment is the first of its kind and is tangibly enhancing the consumer experience.

"This partnership marks another step in the development of our image recognition technology across different applications and verticals, as businesses in a range of sectors look to AI solutions in order to improve customer service and boost operational efficiency."

Hammerson now plans to extend the trial across its shopping centre portfolio and, in the long-term, integrate the visual search application within its existing 'Plus' app, which has been downloaded by 300,000 shoppers, used primary for tailored discounts and shopping centre navigation.

Customers who use the Hammerson app are loyal customers. The shopping centre told Essential Retail in February that 12% of Plus customers visit more frequently, while 15% spend longer shopping.