Swedish fashion retailer Hennes & Mauritz (H&M) is continuing to roll out its Image Search tool in new markets in a bid to make shopping even more convenient and inspiring for customers.

Powered by the self-learning algorithms of image recognition technology, Image Search is a tool that helps customers move directly from inspiration – in for example social media, screen shots or own photos – to purchases via the H&M mobile app. Users simply feed a picture of a style they like to the app and the app will immediately present one or several similar purchasable products from the retailer's online assortment.

The tool, which is shown as a camera icon in the top right corner of the app, was first launched in May 2017 in the UK, the Netherlands, Denmark and Finland. In late September, the app became available in a further nine markets: Belgium, France, Italy, Russia, Spain, Switzerland, Turkey, Ireland and Poland. Currently live in 13 markets, the plan is to launch Image Search across more H&M markets further ahead.

As with other H&M digital features, such as #HM Gallery and My Style, Image Search takes further steps to combine visual discovery with new technology.

H&M's move is the latest by a number of retailers to utilise the popularity of social media platforms such as Instagram to help streamline and boost digital sales.

Last month, global fitness brand Reebok said it is to make its social lifestyle content shoppable for the first time, while earlier this year nFlate, makers of the mobile apparel marketplace app See It Buy It (SiBi), revealed a new feature that enables users to shop for apparel based on visual attributes from the feeds of influencers on Instagram.

In addition, UK-based online fashion retailer Asos recently launched a tool that enables shoppers to search for clothes and accessories using photos - including Instagram posts - as part of a heavy investment to improve site infrastructure, drive agility and speed up innovation.

AI-based app adds 'Shop Instagram' apparel feature

Asos adds visual search option to mobile app

Meanwhile, according to a new study, UK brands lose out on around GBP3.4bn (US$4.4bn) in sales each year on items left in virtual shopping baskets, which suggests investing in easy-to-use options across all online platforms, particularly mobile, is key to encouraging online browsers into buying.

How to encourage online browsers into buying