Report • 21.01.2019

Visual search: a picture says more than a thousand words

The new product search using images

Showing a photo of a product is often easier than describing it in words. This also applies to e-commerce. That's why customers can now simply upload and find a picture of a desired product online.

Google and Bing are perhaps the most popular engines for online image searches. The function that allows you to find similar looking images to the one you uploaded has been around for several years. With the help of artificial intelligence, the search engines search the web and subsequently display the image that is most similar. Zalando, Otto, and ASOS are among the retailers who have taken advantage of this feature last year. Their goal is to make it easier for customers to search for and find products.

The road from photo to product

People like to be inspired by other people's outfits on social media or in real life. If they search for the outfit by using text, the search often doesn’t come up with the desired product. Usually, there is not enough pertinent information like the brand or product name to launch a more targeted search. That's why the online stores concluded that "a picture is worth a thousand words" and implemented visual search technology. Instead of entering keywords into the search bar, customers can simply upload an image of the product they are looking for. This actually works well most of the time, allowing consumers to instantly find a similar looking or the exact product.

Examples of a visual search

A progression of product recommendations

Product recommendations on websites like Zalando use machine learning, a subcategory of artificial intelligence and so does visual search. Software scans the structure of the images and the data is stored as vectors in the system. The vectors in the database are then compared and the images with the best match are displayed as product recommendations on the webpage. Visual search is the logical progression in this case. It allows customers to take advantage of data that was previously only used by the company.

Who benefits from visual search?

E-commerce retailers that offer a large selection of different products can benefit from visual search and should look into it. Visual search is especially worthwhile for industries like fashion, interior design, and art because the respective products tend to be more difficult to describe using words. That's one reason why Zalando and ASOS have decided to implement this technology. Having said that, visual search can also assist customers in more complex settings like finding special machine parts for example.

clothes on a rack
Large online shops for fashion already have a visual search to make it easier for customers to search in their assortments.
Source: Lauren Fleischmann on Unsplash

That sounds like a lot of work

By now, it is relatively easy and cost-effective for businesses to implement this tool thanks to the integration of an API (application programming interface) or an app development using an SDK (software development kit) from visual search engine providers. There are companies on the market like syte.ai that focus on fashion products, Slyce which specializes in app integration or all-in-one solution providers like ViSenze. The best and smartest way to embrace the tool is by adding visual search to an already existing shopping app since smartphone users use their camera already to take pictures or screenshots of things they would like to have. Taking the next step and snapping a photo or uploading it with the smartphone is an easier endeavor versus users doing this on their laptop for example.

Visual search competes with voice search

Visual search is not the first evolution of search engines that uses artificial intelligence. In recent years, voice assistant technologies like Siri (Apple), Cortana (Microsoft), and Alexa (Amazon) have helped consumers to find products in online stores. The problem with voice assistant technology? It is more difficult for computers to recognize and understand speech than images. That’s why most searches end up going nowhere.

Users embrace visual search

The image site Pinterest is one of the earliest users of visual search. This social network is designed to discover new ideas and interests through images uploaded by users and retailers. Thanks to visual search, an interesting object is selected via a so-called "pin", which starts a search in the network for similar images that end up on buy buttons. This search is also an option with images that are uploaded by users. According to a study by Pinterest, searches with images that were uploaded by users increased from 250 million in February 2017 to 600 million in February 2018, proving that there is an ever-growing interest in using pictures for product searches.

Author: Maxim Abramov, iXtenso - Magazine for Retailers

related articles:

popular articles:

Thumbnail-Photo: Retail service robots – helper or footfall generator?...
22.07.2019   #pos marketing #services

Retail service robots – helper or footfall generator?

Using drag and drop to train the new coworker

Many of us know their faces, even if we have never met them in person. One of these faces belongs to Pepper, the humanoid robot. It has fast become a media star. ...

Thumbnail-Photo: Digital Signage Summit Europe - 30 % discount...
07.06.2019   #customer analysis #marketing

Digital Signage Summit Europe - 30 % discount

Many of the world’s foremost digital signage experts, thought leaders and leading technology and service suppliers will come together to present a unique mix of keynotes, conference channels, awards and exhibition showcase.

Now in its 14th year, DSS Europe is the leading European strategy event exploring the business and technology of Digital Signage and DooH - here is a 30% code for our readers – 415839The theme of this year’s conference is ‘Customer ...

Thumbnail-Photo: Silver Surfers: Older adults ride the wave of mobile technology and shop...
01.08.2019   #online trading #e-commerce

Silver Surfers: Older adults ride the wave of mobile technology and shop online

The increasing importance of e-commerce for senior citizens

You are wrong if you think it’s mostly young people who spend time online. Older adults are also increasingly embracing online shopping with enthusiasm.In this interview, Spencer Hinzen, Director of Sales, Central Region, Ruckus Networks, ...

Thumbnail-Photo: U.S. merchants lack critical tools to fuel global expansion...
10.07.2019   #online trading #e-commerce

U.S. merchants lack critical tools to fuel global expansion

Top challenges: payment localization, compliance, and cybersecurity

Rapyd, a FinTech-as-a-Service provider, today announced the results of its inaugural ‘2019 State of Cross-Border eCommerce: U.S. Merchant Outlook’, which found that most U.S. business units (91 percent) prioritize cross-border sales as a ...

Thumbnail-Photo: Tackling organized retail crime with video analytics...
26.06.2019   #video surveillance #digital video surveillance

Tackling organized retail crime with video analytics

Inpixon joins forces with National Anti-Organized Retail Crime Association

Inpixon, an indoor positioning and data analytics company, announced it is collaborating with the National Anti-Organized Retail Crime Association (NAORCA Worldwide) to combat retail crime by providing a free 90-day trial offer for IPA Video™ ...

Thumbnail-Photo: The future of retail: AI is changing everything...
08.07.2019   #digital marketing #visual merchandising

The future of retail: AI is changing everything

AI-enabled systems help retailers understand their customers

For retailers, winning is still all about delighting the customer. The trick is to move fast enough and to be as nimble as possible to satisfy the customer not only today, but in the future. ...

Thumbnail-Photo: Changing markets: embracing disruption to harvest opportunity...
18.06.2019   #digitization #event

Changing markets: embracing disruption to harvest opportunity

Reporting from the first annual Retail & Brand Experience World Congress in Barcelona

More than 200 industry insiders highlighted the many challenges facing the retail sector today in interesting talks and lectures.Topics included the customer experience, the use of technologies, digital media, omnichannel strategies, personalization ...

Thumbnail-Photo: Internal communication via app at Modehaus Ramelow...
03.06.2019   #personnel management #app

Internal communication via app at Modehaus Ramelow

Mobile chat works as a bulletin board

What's new at Modehaus Ramelow? The fashion retailer’s employees can check PIA - and share information to their heart’s content. PIA is an app for "private information exchange".More and more internal communication ...

Thumbnail-Photo: Top 8 supply chain technology trends in 2019...
07.05.2019   #supply chain management (SCM) #artificial intelligence

Top 8 supply chain technology trends in 2019

Technologies that supply chain leaders simply cannot ignore

Gartner, Inc. has identified the top 8 supply chain technology trends in 2019.Gartner’s top strategic supply chain technology trends have broad industry impact, but have not yet been widely adopted. They might be experiencing significant ...

Thumbnail-Photo: Frictionless checkout across all channels to build loyalty...
04.07.2019   #mobile payment #customer satisfaction

Frictionless checkout across all channels to build loyalty

H&M and Klarna elevate the shopping experience for US consumers

H&M and Klarna announced that they have expanded their current partnership agreement to also include the US market, in the development of an unrivalled payments and shopping experience across touchpoints. Together, H&M and Klarna are aiming ...

Supplier

APG Cash Drawer
APG Cash Drawer
4 The Drove
BN9 0LA Newhaven
Delfi Technologies GmbH
Delfi Technologies GmbH
Landgraben 75
24232 Schönkirchen