Intro to Visual Search: A Critical New Marketing Concept

I’m in the market for a new watch: it’s been on my mind for a while now. So as I sit down with an acquaintance for coffee, I’m acutely aware of the very nice piece they have on their wrist.

“That’s a great watch,” I say. “Where’d you get it?”

They don’t remember–it was a gift. Not a problem. I take out my phone, snap a picture, and hit a button. Within seconds, search results pinpoint the model as well as several similar choices. If I want, I can tap a few more times and buy one.

This is the power of visual search. It works with virtually anything that can have its photo taken. And it’s poised to be the next major tactic for online retail.

The visual search trend–the technology is ready

The story above seems easy and straightforward, but to make it work we needed a few ingredients. Consumers armed with high quality cameras, and machine learning and artificial intelligence technology smart enough to tell a lamp from a watch from a car.

Well, we’ve arrived.

Visual search statistics

Roughly 62% of millennials polled by visual search tech company ViSENZE said they’d be comfortable incorporating visual search into their digital shopping lives. It was almost twice as popular as other tech trends like augmented reality or chatbots.

One of Gartner’s top predictions for 2018 and beyond is that, “early adopter brands that redesign their websites to support visual and voice search will increase digital commerce revenue by 30%.”

I don’t know about you, but 30% is hefty. Even 10% is worth seriously investigating. Heavyweights like Google, Amazon, Pinterest and Bing certainly think so.

Visual search use cases

Like my coffee with a friend example, there are countless scenarios where visual search makes more sense than a traditional “type it into Google” text search.

  • Interior design: grab a magazine, browse online, or visit someone’s pad. Crop a picture of the stuff you think you’d like.
  • Window shopping. See some shoes on display that look awesome? Snap a picture.
  • Auditing inventory? Get pictures of what’s in stock, see what else is out there.
  • Redoing your wardrobe. There’s no shortage of clothing pictures out there in the world to feed into visual search!

I could be here all day. Visual search makes so much sense for so many of the online search activities that we already do.

If you have an online store with pictures of your products, it is a near certainty that you’ll need to optimize it for visual search–sooner rather than later. Part of it involves making the picture itself more easily read by the algorithms doing the work. Another part is in application of thorough metadata such as descriptions and alt-tags.

A daunting task, perhaps. That’s why we’re here to help! Haven has the experts that are ready to partner with you on visual search.