Asos Ramps Up Investment in AI, Expects to Spend up to £250M in Technology and Logistics

Asos continues to make a marked push toward artificial intelligence, announcing that it will ramp up spending on technology and logistics to maintain its lead in the global fast-fashion business.

Addressing its interim earnings for the six-month period ending Feb. 28, the London-based retailer revealed that it would proceed with its experiments centered on AI. It tested a virtual assistant late last year to help customers in their search for products and tailor suggestions based on their proffered data (think sizes and preferences).

In the report, the company said it would spend between 230 and 250 million euros ($309 million) on its operations after investing about half of 95 million euros on technology this year. (The other half went to company infrastructure.)

“We have been driving growth and profitability by optimizing customer experience through AI over a number of years now, and we are aiming to establish AI development capability in every area of the business, from customer experience, customer care, supply chain and retail in pursuit of being a truly data-driven organization,” the company shared in a statement. “We are therefore investing heavily in the technology, processes and people needed to make a step change in the productivity of AI development processes.”

Asos cited improvements such as visual search, product recommendation, fit analytics and shopping through Facebook Messenger as examples of AI’s ability to boost retail sales.

Among other technological advancements within the company in the last six months include design improvements to apps, the launch of GooglePay on Android and the complete rollout of refreshed site navigation for both web and mobile shoppers — the latter being the largest design change to the Asos shopping experience in years, according to the company.

Although it reported sales that rose 27 percent to 1.13 billion euros over the last six months, news of its proposed capital expenditure sent Asos’ shares falling in early-morning trading. Offsetting the darker note, the company also celebrated a first-time milestone of 1 billion site visits.

“Alongside our investment in our people and our technology, we are accelerating investment in our distribution and logistics, laying the foundation for 4 billion euros of net sales, a further step in building Asos into the world’s No. 1 destination for fashion-loving 20-somethings,” CEO Nick Beighton said in a statement.

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