Neiman Marcus CMO Wanda Gierhart talks visual search

           Wanda Gierhart
Photo courtesy of Nieman Marcus

Neiman Marcus has been among the most progressive of retailers when it comes to digital initiatives. The company recently reorganized its corporate structure to create a more unified organization across the physical and digital properties, and has continued to innovate with new mobile features and apps.

Last week the retailer announced an expansion of visual search capabilities to all product categories. The Snap.Find.Shop feature powered by Slyce allows shoppers to snap a photo of an item, then search and find the same or similar item among Neiman Marcus' merchandise. There are efforts to create a shoppable Instagram feed, a mobile wallet and a $100 million investment in its omnichannel strategy.

Wanda Gierhart, chief marketing officer at Neiman Marcus, answered a few questions about why the luxury retailer is investing in mobile.

FierceMobileRetail: Tell me a bit more about why Neiman Marcus is expanding the use of visual search.

Wanda Gierhart: When we initially rolled out with shoes and handbags, we found that customers were taking lots of pictures of items in other categories as well. We always try to exceed our customers expectations and realized there was a demand to use this technology across all the products we sell.

FierceMobileRetail: How important is mobile to Neiman Marcus? Are there features of use cases that are particular to the NM shopper?

Gierhart: Similar to industry trends, Neiman Marcus customers use of mobile devices is skyrocketing. As a result, mobile is very important to us. Because of the small screen on mobile phones, it's critical we make the browsing and shopping process as seamless as possible. This need is behind both the Snap.Find.Shop feature as well as our early involvement with the Pinterest buy button and Instagram's Like to Know It feature.

FierceMobileRetail: Neiman Marcus prides itself on customer service. Does the visual search technology incorporate human elements or is it strictly a digital platform?

Gierhart: The visual search technology is strictly a digital platform, however customers enjoy using the app to easily connect with their sales associates, find out about great promotions and in-store events, and make payments in-store via the mobile wallet feature.

FierceMobileRetail: How do you think this technology can be expanded on?

Gierhart: That remains to be seen.