Trends News 1 - Visual search, the new shopping experience

Visual search, the new shopping experience

Visual search, the new shopping experience

Sometimes it’s difficult for customers to describe with the right words the products they are looking for – so here it is: visual search might be the solution.

Indeed instead of typing in a keyword such as ‘’blue jean’’ – which will generate thousands of results, users can upload an image to help narrow their search down to something more specific. This technology makes online products search easier and quicker, helping shoppers to find exactly what they are looking for.

How does it work?

Visual search is based on Artificial Intelligence (AI) and more precisely on computer vision (which is Deep Learning). It works by comparing the pixels in imagery in order to identify products. Once an AI-algorithm identified the image sent, it will suggest similar and selected products: we call it “visual intelligence”.

AI is not brand new, but thanks to the new Cloud-based infrastructures, machines are now able to compute more data at a much quicker rate. What we call the “AI art” has exploded over the past years. As image recognition becomes better, visual search becomes slicker and a truly efficient shopping solution for customers.

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The tests in retail and Ecommerce

Visual search tests started few years ago with Google Goggles (image recognition mobile app) that had been launched in 2010. It was used for searches based on pictures taken by handheld devices (i.e. taking a picture of a product’s barcode would search for information on the product). The E-commerce giant Amazon introduced visual search into its main iOS app in 2014, giving users the possibility to search using their smartphone cameras. It also helped the retailer to understand and know better its customers by capturing more data.

Hammerson completed a successful two-month trial of a visual search tool in its Brent Cross shopping center, allowing shoppers to search for products in-store thanks to an image taken on their phone. The test received positive feedback as 90% of shoppers found the app useful and 92% said they would use it again. On the long-term, Hammerson plans to integrate the visual search tool to its ‘Plus’ app, already downloaded by 300,000 shoppers.

Major retailers, such as John Lewis, Zalando or Macy’s, also tested the technology.

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