Artificial intelligence

Andertons Music tech team uses AI to win IBM London Hackathon

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Last October, IBM hosted a hackathon in London where teams competed to demonstrate the superior customer experience capabilities of IBM Digital Commerce and Watson Content Hub. Several talented IT professionals from the region participated in the activity, assisted by knowledgeable IBM professionals. The winning team was an ingenious group of tech (and not-so-tech) guys from Andertons, one of the country’s leading music stores, who designed a clever site component they christened Guitar Tinder.

With the assistance of their advisors from IBM partner DeeperThanBlue, Guitar Tinder uses AI to help musicians determine which instruments are right for them. Based on the swipe-right, swipe-left protocol made popular by Tinder, it provides recommendations for the brand and model best suited to their musical styles, tastes and budgets.

Same instrument, completely different music

Consider two guitarists: Brian May and Marcus Mumford, both celebrated rock musicians with uniquely different styles. Even the least musically inclined among us can immediately distinguish the vast contrasts between the heavy metal guitar riffs of “Killer Queen” and the folksy, but equally energetic chords in “I Will Wait for You.” If these artists walked into a music store, May would be drawn to the heavy metal sounds of his now famous, self-designed Brian May Red Special, whereas Mumford would be interested in the resonating vibrations of the Martin D28, an acoustic favorite of Bob Dylan and John Lennon.

Yes, both musicians play an instrument called a guitar, but that’s pretty much where the similarity ends. That’s why Guitar Tinder is musical genius: it leads the individual musician directly to the instruments that are best for them.

Getting tuned to the user’s preferences

Information about hundreds of guitars were loaded in, and when you’re on the site you’re presented with an array of instruments that you can rate. Swipe right to say “I like it” or swipe left to indicate it doesn’t appeal to you. You can also put what you like into your basket immediately.

As you continue to interact with the interface, Watson AI creates an understanding of your preferences. It uses dimensions such as product attributes, price and brand to ultimately present what’s most suitable for you, so you won’t waste time sorting through products you’d never consider. It’s an individualized customer experience that wins on every front: personalizing content, expediting product searches, promoting the most appropriate products, and simplifying the buying process.

In the future, the Andertons design team envisions it as also being able to draw information from ads you might click on and other online activities that could be captured for the database. They hope to continue to develop their idea for eventual commercial use.

Guitar Tinder combines tools for a differentiated experience

To create their winning demo, the Andertons hackathon team combined IBM Digital Commerce infrastructure, IBM Watson Content Hub and Cloudant.

  • Watson Content Hub is a cloud-based content management system that allows organizations to aggregate assets and data to create fresh and engaging content. Now featuring access to the expansive Shutterstock library, it enables creators to develop high quality, evocative digital experiences.
  • IBM Digital Commerce provides tools that enable retailers to build rich, personalized web experiences for their customers – to engage them seamlessly across all touchpoints with the right message anywhere in real time.
  • Cloudant is a scalable cloud-based database that helps organizations handle heavy workloads that are associated with large, fast-growing web and mobile apps.

Combined, these IBM tools provide benefits to help differentiate brands, convert sales and instill customer loyalty.

The hackathon team from Andertons truly understood how passionate their customers are about music and the instruments they play. In just a few short hours of intense competition, they created an innovative solution that enhances the customer experience. Imagine what you could do with these same IBM tools, your own team of IT experts and the time to execute a single, brilliant idea.

Get started with IBM Digital Commerce, Watson Content Hub and Cloudant.


Read Andrew Chart’s blog about the Andertons team and their IBM hackathon experience.

About Andertons Music

Based in Surrey, United Kingdom, Andertons Music offers over 400 brands of guitars, drums, pianos, synthesizers and recording equipment. With online sales of nearly USD 40 million per year, this musical instrument retailer operates one of the top e-commerce sites in the UK. In 2018, Anderton’s was the first company outside the US to win the coveted NAMM Dealer of the Year award that spans marketing, customer engagement and retail innovation.

About DeeperThanBlue Ltd.

An IBM Premium Business Partner, DeeperThanBlue is based in South Yorkshire in the UK. The company has been in business for more than 20 years with primary areas of expertise in e-commerce, mobile applications, middleware and analytics.


Director of Marketing, Watson Commerce, IBM Marketing

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