Have you ever seen someone wearing something – killer heels, an unusual leather bag, or an eye-catching accessory – and instantly wanted something similar for yourself? In this situation, many of us turn to Google for help in tracking down what we need.

Unfortunately, describing to Google exactly what we’re looking for isn’t always easy – especially if that item falls into a high-volume search category like clothing. Fortunately, visual search is here to save the day.

An introduction to visual search

Visual search is helping to make it far easier for consumers to find what they are looking for and it’s rapidly changing the way we buy online.

So, what exactly is visual search anyway? Visual search uses images instead of words to set search criteria and find suitable results. For example, instead of typing the keywords ‘blue summer dress’, users can simply upload an image and the visual search software will narrow down the search results accordingly.

How does visual search affect ecommerce brands?

Turning followers into buyers via social media platforms like Instagram and Pinterest has been notoriously difficult for ecommerce brands. However, visual search could soon change all this by making it easier for items to be discovered. Users simply upload an image and voila, they are presented with a selection of similar products for sale.

Ecommerce is all about immediacy; shoppers expect to be able to search, find and buy all within a few minutes. Any steps that slow them down, or barriers that make the shopping experience less enjoyable, are likely to lead to cart abandonment, higher bounce rates and low conversion rates.

Visual search can help shoppers find the item they are looking for quickly without having to waste any time or effort clicking through pages of search results. In short, visual search is the answer to your online shopping nightmares.

Can visual search help brands upsell?

Visual search makes an excellent cross-selling and upselling tool. Brands are able to show a range of similar or related items that the user may not have found using a keyword search alone. These products will usually be very closely linked to the original image search and will give the consumer some great ideas for what might work well with the item (or items) they were originally searching for.

Which brands use it?

Visual search is a rapidly developing technology, but it’s not entirely new. A number of brands have used it in one form or another over the years – including Amazon, Target and Neiman Marcus. The visual search feature on Neiman Marcus’ app allows users to upload a product image and find similar products and styles on their website.

As the technology behind visual search continues to improve we’re expecting to see some huge developments from the bigger retailers, search engines and social media platforms.

Watch this space for the very latest ecommerce visual search updates!

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