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Hammerson pioneers new technology in successful app trial with Cortexica

Hammerson announces that it has successfully completed a beta trial of its new visual search app tool, ‘FindSimilar’, at Brent Cross Shopping Centre, with AI-based technology solutions provider, Cortexica.

The FindSimilar feature is an initiative that aims to enhance the shopping experience, increase shopper engagement and drive footfall by delivering an intuitive and convenient way of browsing thousands of products offered by retailers in shopping centres. Users can take pictures of fashion items, or upload images already saved on their phones, to find exact or similar products stocked in retail stores across the centre. Once the user has selected their chosen product, the app then provides a map which guides the customer directly to the store.

Cortexica is the leading provider of AI-based image recognition and visual search technology. Its proprietary technology is used by a number of global retailers, including John Lewis, Zalando and Macy’s and is increasingly being applied across a range of verticals.

This trial marks the first time the imaging functionality has been used as the basis of the product search.

Hammerson trialled the visual search tool at Brent Cross over the course of two months to understand how the new technology could add value for shoppers. The feedback was very positive, with 90% of those that tried the app stating that they found it useful and 92% saying that they would use it again. In terms of brand engagement, 94% agreed that the app would encourage them to visit different or more stores.

The trial marks the next step in Hammerson’s strategy to enable a seamless omnichannel experience across its shopping centres, a key element of its product experience framework, which is designed to deliver a consistently interactive and engaging experience for shoppers. Hammerson first experimented with shopping centre apps in 2014, when it trialled its first app at Les Terrasses du Port in Marseille. The ‘PLUS’ app has now been integrated across the UK and France shopping centre portfolio and over 300,000 shoppers have already downloaded it to access the interactive centre maps and to take advantage of personally tailored discounts and offers from retailers. Following the success of FindSimilar at Brent Cross, the trial could now be extended across Hammerson’s entire shopping centre portfolio.

David Atkins, Chief Executive of Hammerson, said, “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.

“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, said, “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.”

Brent Cross Shopping Centre is owned by Hammerson and Standard Life Investments.

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