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Encouraged by Results, M&S Expands Predictive Analytics Adoption

British retailer Marks & Spencer (M&S), spurred on by a successful partnership with First Insight, plans to use the firm’s predictive analytics more broadly across the enterprise.

Leveraging First Insights’ predictive analytics, M&S has evaluated many thousands of products across clothing and footwear, intimates, beauty, home goods and consumables, using valuable data to make informed decisions not only on design but also on buying and pricing. M&S credited the software with playing a critical role in influencing collections, ensuring that shoppers are offered on-trend products priced attractively.

“First Insight’s technology gives us invaluable feedback on new products during design and development, so we can buy more of what our customer likes and eliminate products that score less well,” M&S’s director of supply chain and logistics Gordon Mowat said. “Everything M&S does as a company is filtered through the lens of what we know about our customers, and every decision starts with them.”

To offer its predictive recommendations, First Data aggregates social sentiment coupled with up-to-the-minute pricing data and consumer preferences gathered via web-based engagement tools—all of which is then fed into the company’s analytics models to arrive at the products (and price points) that could provide the greatest wins for the retail client.

“The global retail market is changing quickly,” First Insight founder and CEO Greg Petro said, “and retailers need to adapt to succeed.”

Of late, M&S has been attempting to reverse its struggles by closing unprofitable stores and investing in technology, including a new AI-driven partnership with Microsoft.

First Insight research published earlier this year indicated that quality is beginning to overtake the price tag as the more influential purchase driver. Separate findings from the firm pointed to men as bigger brick-and-mortar shoppers than women and 11 percent more interested in interacting with merchandise in store.