Not On The High Street makes its printed catalogue shoppable

Tyrone Stewart

Online marketplace for gifts Not On The High Street has launched a feature on its mobile app which uses artificial intelligence and image recognition to make its printed Christmas 2019 catalogue shoppable.

Customers using the marketplace’s iOS app are able to hold their phone over an image in the catalogue – rather than having to search for a product number or scan a barcode – to have the app find that product and make it available for purchase directly through the app.

“We wanted to better connect our customers offline and online experience,” said Richard Zubrik, chief technology officer at Not On The High Street. “Discoverability is a key development area for us, so this feature is just one way we’re making it easier for our customers to shop with NOTHS. We know that people love browsing our catalogue, and many do so while also searching our site through their mobile, this new feature removes the need to hunt down product codes and brings people the perfect thoughtful gift instantly.

“More than 70 per cent of traffic to our platform comes via mobile devices, so we are constantly looking at how we can improve our mobile user experience.”

The company used a combination of humans and technology to create a dataset of over 1m images of the 331 products in its 100-page catalogue. Using these images, it took 168 hours to train an image classification deep learning model built on Apple’s CoreML and MLImageClassifierBuilder.

“AI and image recognition technology are both opening up new opportunities for brands like ours, which are reliant on visual data, to make our mobile offering more responsive to our customers and adaptive to their shopping behaviour,” added Zubrik.

“This feature of our mobile app is a first test for us and something we will be looking to build on in the New Year as we strive to create a far more seamless shopping experience, helping our customers to find the perfect thoughtful product for all occasions.”

Earlier this month, Walmart teamed up with Digimarc to bring the same sort of scan and shop technology to customers in the US for its seasonal toy catalogue.