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: Payment and retail - what happens after the crisis?...
09.07.2020   #brick and mortar retail #payment systems

Payment and retail - what happens after the crisis?

Interview with Christine Bauer from CCV

We ask Christine Bauer, Vice President International Sales of the payment service provider CCV, which has been firmly established in Germany for 25 years and internationally for 60 years.Mrs Bauer, CCV has been on the market for a very long time, ...

Thumbnail-Photo: Creative criminal meets intelligent security system...
28.05.2020   #security #brick and mortar retail

Creative criminal meets intelligent security system

Interview with Ralph Siegfried, Business Development Manager at Axis Communications GmbH

Stores come in different sizes, have different settings and vary in product selection. That’s also why they need a customized loss prevention and security solution. What are some options for retailers and what key elements do they need to ...

Thumbnail-Photo: RetailTech Lab opened a national test center in Denmark...
23.06.2020   #payment systems #marketing research

RetailTech Lab opened a national test center in Denmark

The store of the future has opened in Lyngby. One of the partners is the IT company Delfi Technologies.

On June 16, 2020, RetailTech Lab opened its doors to a national test center in the Danish mall “Lyngby Storcenter”. New technology for the retail industry will be tested in close interaction between entrepreneurs, retailers and ...

Thumbnail-Photo: CCV announces consolidation of its international payment division,...
02.07.2020   #mobile payment #payment systems

CCV announces consolidation of its international payment division, focuses on market innovations

Under the flagship of CCV GmbH, the company plans to bring its innovation into specific international markets

CCV Group B.V. has announced that all of its international business activities will now be consolidated and run within its Germany-based division - CCV GmbH. CCV GmbH will carry out the activities of the former CCV Deutschland GmbH and CCV Easy, a ...

Thumbnail-Photo: Shop NEXT 2020
31.03.2020   #online trading #brick and mortar retail

Shop NEXT 2020

Next shopping experience

Due to the retail industry in Southeast Asia is developing rapidly and the retail industry value has exceeded 100 billion dollars. Over 250 exhibitors and 10,000 visitors from 30 countries or regions are expected to participate in Shop Next ...

Thumbnail-Photo: Bright future for Copenhagen-based Irma Store...
15.06.2020   #electronic shelf labels (ESL) #price labelling

Bright future for Copenhagen-based Irma Store

Automatic price updates with ESL

Irma Smedetoften is located in the heart of Copenhagen's Northwest Quarter. The area around the Irma store is part of an urban development project where, among other things, the local trade district will be strengthened. Irma has also recently ...

Thumbnail-Photo: The safety barrier you need right now
02.06.2020   #customer satisfaction #security

The safety barrier you need right now

Poindus ProShield is an effective protection screen.

Safeguards like social distancing implemented in-store during staff-customer interactions are enhanced with our ProShield, an effective protection screen that provides an additional layer of protection for cashiers & customers at the point of ...

Thumbnail-Photo: Digital access controls support distancing requirements in the era of...
06.07.2020   #brick and mortar retail #retail

Digital access controls support distancing requirements in the era of Corona

Essential staff are relieved and the risk of infection is reduced

Since the beginning of the pandemic, larger supermarkets and discounters have been imposing entrance restrictions to ensure that only a certain number of people are allowed within their Stores. Usually the access management is carried out by ...

Thumbnail-Photo: Interface for quick serial emulation and enhanced mPOS integration...
26.06.2020   #POS systems #software applications

Interface for quick serial emulation and enhanced mPOS integration

APG expands mobile interface portfolio to enhance connectivity options at the point of sale

APG Cash Drawer, a fast-growing global manufacturer of cash management solutions, announced today the release of a new USB interface option: the 485 USBProLite™ USB to Serial Emulation Interface. This interface solution extends the ...

Thumbnail-Photo: Reflexis successfully expands into Baltic region by signing Maxima Latvia...
08.07.2020   #POS communications #workforce deployment

Reflexis successfully expands into Baltic region by signing Maxima Latvia

Region’s leading retail chain chooses workforce management solution

Reflexis Systems, the leading provider of intelligent workforce management and execution solutions for multi-site businesses in retail, food service, hospitality and banking, today announced that Maxima, one of the largest Latvian retail chains, has ...

Supplier

Delfi Technologies GmbH
Delfi Technologies GmbH
Landgraben 75
24232 Schönkirchen
Poindus HQ - Taiwan
Poindus HQ - Taiwan
5F., No.59, Ln. 77, Xing-Ai Rd.,Neihu Dist.
Taipei City 114
APG Cash Drawer
APG Cash Drawer
4 The Drove
BN9 0LA Newhaven
Reflexis Systems GmbH
Reflexis Systems GmbH
Kokkolastr. 5-7
40882 Ratingen
CCV GmbH
CCV GmbH
Gewerbering 1
84072 Au i.d.Hallertau
Apostore GmbH
Apostore GmbH
Uferstraße 10
45881 Gelsenkirchen
POS TUNING Udo Voßhenrich GmbH & Co KG
POS TUNING Udo Voßhenrich GmbH & Co KG
Am Zubringer 8
32107 Bad Salzuflen