There are multiple ways to search for a product, and those are text, audio and visual search; and here visual search takes the centre stage. 

Have you ever used images to find ideas while shopping online? Have you ever referred to blogs or social media influencers while in-store/online shopping? Have you ever tried searching for ‘that’ beautiful top your friend wore in an Instagram post, but could never find it on any e-commerce platform? 


Online shopper

#Visual Search as a solution

Can an e-commerce platform read images?

Customers do find it difficult to comprehend words to search for an apparel they have seen someone wearing. They end up getting irrelevant search results. However in visual search, the image itself is the query. When customers do a visual search, they search using a product image or some similar image instead of searching via keywords. Customers can take a picture of something or use a screenshot of an apparel they saw on social media, and upload it on a visual search engine of their choice, this is the input. In the output – they would see visually similar products available for purchase. That’s why the demand and popularity of visual search has sky rocketed over the past few years. One of the most popular apps, Pinterest Lens, which originally launched in 2017, allows users to search their smartphone camera to snap a pic offline and then find related Pins on the social platform. To help shoppers dig into it’s lucrative market, Amazon has introduced a new AI-powered tool named ‘StyleSnap’, which it calls the ‘Shazam for clothes’. Users can take a picture or upload an image and StyleSnap will use machine learning to “match the look in the photo” and find similar items for sale on

Opening a new market for customers and retailers / Opening a new revenue market for retailers

A recent survey revealed that 62% of millennials want visual search over any other new technology. Gartner predicts that by 2021, early adopter brands that redesign their websites to support visual and voice search will increase digital commerce revenue by 30%. 

While shopping online, customers are not able to check the entire inventory as the platform pushes only the most popular products on their initial pages. The filtering and sorting process is also not the most efficient. What if you want to see only blue coloured shirts? This might not give an exact search result. But with visual search, you can get exact, and almost similar choices to what you upload in the search engine. Visual search provides the technology for a product recommendation system based on actual similarity and not other users preferences.

Since customers will be able to find the exact apparel they wanted, this will result in increased conversion rates, less cart abandonments, and lesser returns. This will increase revenue and save cost on reverse logistics. Visual search is increasingly improving organic sales for e-commerce platforms. 

Brands and e-commerce platforms have been spending on advertising and roping in social influencers, but with the rise of visual search, the marketing patterns of these brands might change. With each physical object becoming a hyperlink in itself, smaller brands might become less dependant on advertising. Each customer will become a brand ambassador for the product.