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How Victoria's Secret & Co. brings the in-store experience home with generative AI

June 25, 2024
Murali Sundararajan

Chief Information Officer, Victoria's Secret

Online, the faster customers find the products, the more likely they are to buy. Victoria's Secret & Co. is helping consumers get there faster with generative AI.

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If a customer walks into a Victoria’s Secret store and wants to replace a bra purchased five years ago, a sales associate can determine which style it is, and help her find a new one – all by just looking at the bra strap.

We figured, wouldn’t it be great if our digital experiences could do the same thing? Could our customer take a picture of her bra, upload it to our online platform, and get a whole list of similar items and personalized recommendations?

Now, with the help of artificial intelligence, she can do just that.

As one of the world’s leading intimate apparel retailers, Victoria’s Secret is committed to celebrating and supporting women in all we do. Our products and our associates help our customers feel good, inside and out. From front-end to back, we want our technology to shine, too, so shoppers and workers can make the most of every day.

Creating exceptional customer experiences is our top priority, whether that’s in the store or online; our sales associates are an integral part of that service, so we want to give them great experiences, too. A few years ago, we recognized an opportunity to elevate our digital service to provide more personal support to shoppers — an effort that’s been expanding thanks to AI.


Bridging the online and in-person shopping experience

In our search to make our digital experiences as helpful as our in-store staff, we began considering ways AI might help tackle some of the more complex tasks that a more conventional digital experience couldn’t.

That’s when we discovered Google Cloud’s Vertex AI, an open and integrated AI platform that offers generative AI, visual search capabilities, and more. With the assistance of Vertex AI and a dedicated team of Google Cloud engineers, we launched a new capability in 2023 to power better customer experiences.

A customer can now go to our website or mobile app, upload a picture of any product (from Victoria’s Secret or another brand), and receive personalized product recommendations. Vertex AI enables us to simulate the in-person shopping experience on our digital platforms without having to scroll through countless pages to find what a shopper might be after — or not even know they might want. Visual search powered by Google Cloud’s Vision AI helps our customers get the products they need faster.

It’s the general nature of digital commerce today that faster and more intuitive product discovery helps turn searches into sales. The longer it takes a customer to find the right item, the more likely it is that the customer will get distracted or lose interest. By providing instant, relevant search results, we can capture customers’ attention when they’re motivated to purchase, meeting their needs while maximizing conversions.

Improving experience and efficiency through AI

We have three specific goals when it comes to employing AI and generative AI. Foremost, as already discussed, is to improve the customer experience. Second is to improve our associate’s experience (especially our in-store and customer care associates). And the third is our overall enterprise-level operational efficiency.

With respect to the associate experience, our focus is how to reduce the workload of the associate, so they have more time to support customers in the store, rather than spending time on mundane work. Essentially, we are looking to create more efficiency for associates by automating simpler tasks, such as logging inventory or quickly finding product information and availability.

We believe that, in turn, our associates will be able to provide value back to the customers in terms of having good experience in the store.

Operational efficiency spans across the entire enterprise. It could be related to optimizing our supply chain, procurement, finance, IT operations, marketing, merchandising, or planning, as well as the points where these intersect. It’s quite a bit to deal with, so we are still workshopping exactly where the greatest opportunities lie and where we can compound the benefits of AI. We’re particularly interested in where we can leverage AI solutions to reduce development time and deliver core capabilities more quickly.

Operational efficiency is quite a bit to deal with, so we are still workshopping exactly where the greatest opportunities lie and where we can compound the benefits of AI.

Our cloud infrastructure and various AI projects help with our goal of operational efficiency in terms of scalability, ease of use, and innovative, agile solutions that evolve and grow with our business needs.

For Victoria’s Secret & Co., AI is allowing us to create a seamless connection between digital touchpoints and physical stores, making the customer journey as smooth as possible. With Google Cloud, we are building a new way to shop for our customers around the world.

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