M&S to introduce AR to autumn fashion campaign

Marks & Spencer is introducing augmented reality to its autumn fashion advertising campaign, one of a raft of digital marketing initiatives being tested as the retailer looks to revive flagging clothing sales by better integrating its on and offline business.

Marks & Spencer

An AR app will provide customers access to video content from ads and M&S magazine to demonstrate how its fashion ranges look when they are worn.

Following the app’s launch on 3 September, QR codes will also be introduced to sit alongside products allowing customers access to information about products. Wi-Fi is also to be introduced in all stores.

Its new flagship store in Cheshire Oaks, unveiled this week, also features six 70-inch “digital inspiration screens” to help customers work out which clothes go together, 12 “browse and order” screens and 10 iPad assistants. Screens could be rolled out nationally if the trial is judged a success.

The retailer plans to add click-to-buy functionality to the Samsung smart TV app it launched last year and is in talks with Google TV about what it can develop on its platform. A bespoke website designed to integrate all M&S’s multichannel elements is due to launch in 2013 to replace M&S current online platform that is hosted by Amazon.

The initiatives are part of a long-term effort to integrate its online and offline activity. Earlier this month, M&S outlined plans to ramp up the use of digital technology such as iPads and interactive screens.

Speaking at Cheshire store ahead of its opening on Thursday (30 August), Laura Wade-Gery,. executive director of multi-channel and e-commerce, stated that a multichannel shopper, who shops with M&S in more than one channel is worth four times more in sales than a customer who just shops via one channel. A customer that shops in three channels is worth eight times as much, she adds.

It is important to try out new technologies even though they “might not be around in a year”, she says, adding “I am technology agnostic. We need to test a whole series of stuff, not all of it will stick. The rate of stuff that we are developing is really important. If it’s not going to work, fail fast and move on.”

M&S will be hoping the investment in multichannel will boost clothing sales. Clothing and general merchandise sales dropped 7% in its latest quarter.

Multi-channel sales, however, increased by 14.9% in the period.

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