M&S buys Thread’s technology to boost its fashion personalisation

Credit: Samuel Regan-Asante (Unsplash)

On 30 November, Marks & Spencer acquired the intellectual property of Thread, including the source code and algorithms developed by the company, which went into administration. 

Credit: rupixen.com (Unsplash)

Over the last three years, M&S has invested in developing its digital data and data capabilities to offer customers personalisation elements on its website. 

Personalised offers and outfit recommendations on the retailer’s site have generated substantial value. The company anticipates 20-25 percent of all digital interactions to be personalised this year. 

Over the last 12 months, M&S’s personalisation techniques like the ‘frequently bought together’ section have boosted sales and brought the business £20m of revenue.  

Marks & Spencer expect personalisation to help boost sales to £100 million annual revenue.  

Katie Bickerstaffe, Co-CEO of Marks & Spencer said: “The acquisition of Thread is the perfect example of a ‘buy not build’ approach – enabling us to accelerate our personalisation strategy by integrating the market leading tech on M&S.com in under 12 months. We’re taking personalisation to the next level to inspire our customers with tailored outfit inspiration.” 

Integration of the cutting-edge new technology to the M&S.com platform will accelerate personalisation and offer unique customer service. The clothing retailer will now recommend and suggest clothes based on budget, style and size.  

“We have been working hard to deliver better, more stylish ranges and this algorithm will also put more of our great product in front of the customer,” said Bickerstaffe. 

The personalisation will stretch across all clothing products that are available on M&S.com, including third-party brand partners. 

Following Thread’s administration, M&S will be hiring 30 of its former data scientists, software engineers and styling & creative teams to lead and oversea a new personalised discovery team within their data and digital function. This includes Thread’s founders Kieran O’Neil and Ben Phillips. 

Kieran O’Neill, CEO and Co-Founder of Thread commented: “We have worked for the past 10 years on building the most advanced AI personalisation for online fashion, proven to increase customer conversion and repeat orders. We’re so excited to join forces with M&S; through their infrastructure and support, we’re able to take our market leading technology to the next level.” 

Words: Aleksandra Martynow | Subbing: Yana Trup

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