Finding What We Want With Visual Search

Voice Search has become a hot topic recently and it’s not hard to understand why. But as it turns out Visual Search is also an interesting alternative to entering text in the search box. The reason for this may be that people consider themselves to be visual learners.  

According to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, almost 90% of the information processed by the human brain is visually transmitted

What’s more, Visual Search has just been added to Synerise.  

Aleksandra Adamusiak
AI Research Specialist
Added 2 months ago | 4 min read

Every user of the internet is familiar with the concept of search engine. I guess, it’s not an exaggeration to state that search engine and internet are terms which are permanently bonded.  

They re-defined the process of looking for information, made it easy and most of all they made it a fast process. You need to type the word, hit a button and that’s it. You’re flooded with results. But recently it’s not only about typing words.  

For various reasons, including convenience and accuracy of the results, users can now use their voice to search results and images to find what they are looking for. But now we can  go a little bit further – and use searching by visual pieces of content, such as pictures or graphics. 

In recent years, the e-commerce and retail industries have evolved at an incredible rate. Brands now face the challenge of providing users with precisely the content they expect, thanks to young, technologically advanced consumers using social-media platforms.  

Such consumers demand full personalization and faster shopping processes, where the path from product discovery to checkout is as short as possible. Visual Search gives them the ability to identify and locate objects using photos or video in seconds. 

How does Visual Search work? 

Technical aspects:

We can divide this process into three stages. The first of them is a scan of the image by the neural network, which generates the main keywords of the image, such as the type of dress, its color, type of material or brand, which are returned in the form of tags. Next comes matching.

Thanks to tags, the system can browse the product catalog to find a match. Grouping is the last stage, where the search engine filters matches found for the query. 

User perspective:

The user takes a photo using a smartphone and sends the file to the search engine. Visual Search then "reads" the image by identifying things like its shape, size, color, and later offers the consumer the same or similar products found in other images.  

Visual Search has an amazing advantage over traditional text input in the search engine field because until now the consumer had to remember all the important details of the product that interested him. Now all he has to do is load the photo and the rest will be done by the search engine

For example, let’s say an Instagram follower of an influencer sees a nice red dress, or a random person on the street wearing a skirt that interests her. All the user has to do is to take a picture or simply upload image link, send it to the application or website of the selected seller and the visual search will show her the same and similar products, but with different price ranges. 

What are the main benefits of Visual Search?

  1. The solution offers exactly what the user expects. It is an excellent tool for consumers who are looking for a specific product because it reduces search time by avoiding unnecessarily entering keywords or scrolling the results. Instead, the consumer simply sends the image and immediately receives just the right results. 
     
  2. Cross-selling and a great alternative to out-of-stock. Another advantage of visual search is that it can be an ideal tool for cross-selling. If a website or app does not have a particular product in its warehouse, it may show similar or related products that may still lead to a purchase.
     
  3. Personalization. Synerise Visual Search has a built-in recommendation engine that enables it to not only find similar items but also to personalize the search to include customer's affinity to gender, brands and categories.
     
  4. Saving time for the user. It only takes a few seconds to load the image and check if the product is available.
     
  5. Simple integration – no modelling required and no complex tracking codes. Just prepare a simple form for uploading files and AI does the rest. 

Is it possible to properly prepare your business for the introduction of Visual Search?

Of course! One of the most important elements in ecommerce is complete website optimization. Another equally important step to make visual search effective is the high quality photos of products and services that will be shown to customers. 

You have to supply the right size of photos so that they render properly no matter the device on which they are displayed (mobile and stationary devices). For visual search to work properly, just good photos are not enough — attractive, clear product descriptions will also help match the image to the search engine algorithm.

Summary

As you can see, there is huge business potential in the field of visual search for the e-commerce industry.

A great side effect of investing in a visual search in social platforms, applications and website is the growth of businesses. The most breeding ground for that solution is fashion industry which can help with identifying target audiences. 

According to the Gartner report, by 2021, brands that have introduced visual and voice search will increase their revenue by 30 percent. As you can see, it is another tool that can help to create solutions that will enhance the customer experience and facilitate progress along the customer journey.  

User behavior and expectations evolve with trends and technology. As more consumers discover visual search and appreciate its convenience, it will grow in popularity and will begin to shape the way searches are conducted. That’s why it’s important to keep up with the capabilities, applications and value of visual search—to stay in-line with dynamically changing consumer tastes and deliver the experience your customers expect.  

 Make sure your site is ready for Visual Search today.