With its special algorithms, artificial intelligence is increasingly considered very useful in helping customers choose the right products from among the multitude of items offered on inclusive websites like those of Farfetch and Yoox-Net-A-Porter. Farfech alone, which recently went public, gives customers a choice among about 20,000 different styles of footwear at the higher end of the market, in addition to many other product categories.

Farfetch is teaming up with an Israeli start-up, Syte, to enable customers to use the day-to-day style inspiration they come across. Using the iOS app, customers can post images that are shared by their friends, that they snap on the street or that they take from social media or influencers' blogs. These are processed by Syte's “See it, Snap it, Shop it” feature, which gains a deeper understanding of their needs and desires and can thus provide recommendations.

For its part, Yoox says that its R&D team has created a “virtual styling suite” called Yooxmirror on its iOS mobile app. Thanks to artificial intelligence, its customers will be presented with a range of 250 items of clothing, footwear and accessories each week, from any of nine fashion themes, taken from its Instagram account. Customers will be able to test their chosen products virtually by having avatar models try them on.

Other online retailers like Asos, eBay and Forever 21 offer similar visual search tools already, allowing a more personalized shopping experience. According to Juniper Research, retail spending based on artificial intelligence is expected to grow worldwide from $2 billion this year to $7.3 billion by 2022.