It was once a popular way for older shoppers to buy clothing from the comfort of their sofa, but now Marks & Spencer is launching a new generation of teleshopping in an effort to modernise its image.
The retailer has launched a “live shopping” service, a trend made popular by the social media app TikTok, which will use influencers to model outfits over a live video stream.
Customers will be able to ask questions while they watch from their smartphones and “buy the look” in real time in a move the retailer said it hoped to make it “more relevant, more often” with shoppers.
Live shopping took off on TikTok last month, with retailers using it to flog Black Friday deals by connecting with the social media app’s mostly teenage audience. Instagram and Facebook have also trialled the service for customers in the US.
It is part of a wider turnaround plan by M&S to sell more clothes online and attract younger shoppers after it boasted a rebound in fashion sales during the Christmas period.
M&S is thought to be the first major UK retailer to host live shopping on its website, which attracts 13.5m customers every week.
Live shopping is worth £126bn in China, with around 17pc of all online purchases in the country made this way. According to research by McKinsey, it will account for between 10pc to 20pc of online shopping worldwide by 2026, a trend boosted during the pandemic as lockdowns meant households were unable to visit stores.
M&S will host its first live shopping experience to promote its activewear range, followed by a broadcast on Valentine’s Day gift ideas hosted by its own flower expert.
The 137-year-old retailer last week became the latest grocer to bet on augmented reality technology by launching an app in one of its food stores intended to replace the paper shopping list that guides shoppers to the correct shelf based on the items they enter.
M&S has ploughed investment into improving its website over the past 18 months by selling third-party brands such as Ghost, Nobody’s Child and Jaeger, “digital bra-fit” appointments, and a mobile scan-and-shop service.
In May 2019, the company announced plans to shut about 120 clothes stores by April 2024 as it focuses its attention on food shops and selling more clothing and homeware online.
Internet orders at M&S soared by 50pc above pre-pandemic levels over the festive period as lockdown habits became permanent among many households.
Stephen Langford, director of M&S.com, said: “Live Shopping is a growing global trend that combines easy-to-use shoppable technology with the opportunity to tell the story behind products.
“This gives our M&S experts the ideal platform to bring to life the points of difference in our product – in terms of both quality, design and innovation features.”