The Marks & Spencer store in London

Marks & Spencer has expanded its partnership with First Insight, which offers technology aimed at helping retailers and brands make better-informed product development and pricing decisions.

Marks & Spencer uses the firm’s predictive analytics platform for making design, buying and pricing decisions and noted that the extended partnership involves increasing the volume of products tested.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The retailer has used the technology, which garners insights into consumer behavior, in the merchandising of fashion apparel and innerwear as well as footwear, accessories, beauty products, home goods and food. “The software has enabled M&S to test tens of thousands of products across more than 50 departments in order to buy more of what customers like,” First Insight said. “The platform has helped shape collections and resulted in customers getting the best products at the right prices.”

Gordon Mowat, who serves as the director of supply chain and logistics at M&S, said everything the retailer does as a company “is filtered through the lens of what we know about our customers, and every decision starts with them.” Mowat said 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.”

The First Insight platform used online “social engagement tools” to collect “real-time preference, pricing and sentiment data on potential product offerings.” First Insight said that information is filtered through its “predictive analytic models to determine which products present the greatest opportunity.”

Greg Petro

Greg Petro  Patrick MacLeod/WWD

Greg Petro, chief executive officer and founder of First Insight, said the solution enables M&S to evaluate a larger number of products and then “reflect direct consumer input in their buying decisions.”

“The global retail market is changing quickly, and retailers need to adapt to succeed,” Petro explained. “M&S is a forward-thinking company and is investing in solutions to get closer to its customers. We have developed a valued partnership with M&S, which has demonstrated a strong ROI and the ability to scale across their business.”

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