By Liz Warren
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A picture is worth 1,000 words—or, in Levi’s case, 1,000 search terms. Next month, the denim company will debut new technology on its e-commerce site that makes it possible to use images—not words—to search for products.
The “computer vision” feature makes it easier for consumers to find pieces that match certain styles from mood boards, social media sites or photos from friends. After uploading an image to the site, shoppers will be presented with relevant products across Levi’s assortment. The feature will be piloted in the U.S. in November and expand to Europe in early 2022.
Levi’s is also ramping up artificial intelligence (AI) and automation efforts across its site to make online shopping a more personalized experience ahead of the holiday season. Using neural-network-based machine learning, the site will deliver search results tailored to the user’s previous interactions. For example, a search for “jeans” will pull up products that fit the gender, color and fit of their past search results. The more a user interacts with the site, the more personalized the search results. The company is currently testing the feature in select regions and plans to expand it globally in the coming year.
Artificial intelligence has been a top focus for Levi’s, which in July launched an AI bootcamp that gave employees across all of its departments the chance to learn more agile thinking skills and increase the use of technology and data throughout the organization. The following month, it organized its first-ever virtual hackathon to encourage tech-fueled innovations to benefit the company and its customers.
The Covid-19 pandemic has undoubtedly played a role in Levi’s accelerated digital focus. According to the company’s latest Unzipped blog post, “searching and finding inspiration online takes a slightly different approach since perusing racks isn’t an option.” Like many of its peers, the company has doubled down on its digital capabilities in recent years—and it’s finding significant success in doing so.
Levi’s direct-to-consumer (DTC) business has taken off, with a reported 34 percent increase in DTC-specific revenues in Q3 2021 compared to Q3 2020 and a 4 percent increase since Q3 2019. During an earnings call in April 2019, CEO Chip Bergh told analysts that its DTC channels—which include the brick-and-mortar stores and e-commerce sites it operates—had grown by double-digits for 12 consecutive quarters, signaling that the pandemic only accelerated what was already in the works.
During its latest presentation with investors, Levi’s said strong DTC sales are what helped improve margins even as results in Asia faltered. Net revenues through all digital channels grew 10 percent from last year and 76 percent since 2019. Digital sales represented approximately 20 percent of total third quarter revenues.
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