According to human psychology, people are extremely visual beings. They have the ability to grasp more than 80% of the information visually. This prompts me to point out the importance of visual search. As you know, visual search has been around for several years and is built into several popular search engines and social media platforms, however, the technology is only now fully catching up with the ambition. And that’s what makes visual search, a relatively unexplored technology, an opportunity for retailers to shoot for exponential growth.
In this blog, I am going to get you acquainted with everything about the rising term- visual search, its concept, and its driving impact on the retail industry.
Before we move on to visual search, let’s first understand how image search works. An image search is a service that is offered by several search engines in which you can provide an image file—a saved .jpeg file from your camera roll and it tries to find similar images over the web.
Visual search on the other hand goes way beyond the capabilities of an image search and analyzes the picture provided by the user via cutting-edge technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML), etc. to identify and even interpret its contents. Then it searches the web for the most similar image of the product/object and not just generically similar images. It is essentially most useful when you want to search for something but can’t figure out a way to describe it with text.
So, I think it’s safe to say that with consumer habits rapidly shifting towards online discovery, visual search is a tool that every retail organization would benefit from having in its arsenal.
Let me explain with an example of a global retail website. This e-commerce giant leverages the power of visual search coupled with deep retail by letting you upload a screenshot of the outfit that you want to purchase and then presents you with clothing options that are similar to the ones in the screenshot, sometimes even the exact same ones. How’s that for an enhanced end-user experience?
Studies have shown that 62% of millennials prefer the ability to conduct a visual search over any other form of technology. And rightfully so, which is why there are several retail businesses in the market that are set to tap into its full potential.
Here’s how visual search can help your organization:
A timely investment in visual search can give your business the opportunity to vastly increase its revenues. According to a report by Gartner, early adopters of visual search are finding an increase in their revenues by as much as 30%. The pandemic has proven to be a pivotal point for retailers and with the “new normal” imminent upon us, the number of people switching to online shopping is massive, especially given how easy it is.
So, as a retailer, you have the chance to tap into a new customer base and you can do so by launching a visual search feature. This feature will prompt your customer to use a camera to scan an object or a barcode. Once the object is scanned, a pop up will appear showing that object as well as a few similar ones with an attractive thumbnail, price tag, reviews, ratings, and more. When they tap on one, they will be redirected to your website to make the purchase. Not only will this help you boost your web traffic but also positively impact your sales!
Potential customers will look to make any kind of personal connection with a website. They must trust your website to make a potential purchasing decision. A team of a global image sharing and social media service stated that 90% of users’ purchasing decisions were driven by the information attained through visual search technology.
It is therefore evident that visual discovery allows the consumer to generate a more emotional connection, which translates into less price sensitivity. Visual search is therefore the best way in which you can create connections with customers through image-based content.
Visual search will make it easier for brand chatbots to utilize AI and deep learning to communicate with end-users. Ideally, as a retailer, you can leverage visual search technology to engage with end consumers and access powerful insights through chatbots.
You can encourage your customers to converse with the chatbot and scan a barcode or share a screenshot, following which the chatbot can redirect them to the closest fit to their search. Additionally, if you want to take it up a notch, you can get the chatbot to interpret the picture and provide similar items that the customer might like and increase the organic reach of your online store! Isn’t that a win-win?
Visual search offers organizations new opportunities to expand their market, increase their exposure, and reach new customers.
Don’t let exciting new marketing possibilities turn into big chargeback headaches. Be honest and accurate in how you portray your products and services visually.
At this point, I would like to specify that when it comes to the power of visual search, this is just the tip of the iceberg. There are several other applications for visual search such as FaceNet, a system that learns mapping directly from face images onto a compact Euclidean space to identify facial similarities. You can read more about it here.
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