There are few things more frustrating than knowing exactly what you are looking for and being unable to find it. Whether it is the perfect piece of furniture, a particular style of shoe, or your latest mode of transportation, settling for “I like it but”, is a truly unsatisfying conclusion to the consumer journey.
This is where visual commerce and visual search become a consumer’s best friend. While visual commerce has taken off, with brands relying more and more on imagery and video to capture a buyer’s attention and desire, fewer brands have really dialed in on the possibilities with visual search. Visual search uses images, as opposed to text, to search for information and products using artificial intelligence.. Whereas image search still relies on text to start the query, visual search scans the internet for content closely matched to an image that a user inputs. Instead of searching for “blue Nikes” and scrolling through the endless options that Nike has created, a user can upload an image of the exact style they are looking for and discover where they can purchase it.
The Names In the Game
While the visual technology is newer to eCommerce, major players have already banked on it. Pinterest, which is classified as a social network but actually functions more like a visual search engine, has rolled out several visual shopping tools over the past three years, including Pinterest Lens, which allows users to upload their own images or focus in on an element within an existing pin. Taking that a step further, Pinterest has added features that then make those visual search queries shoppable, which is an exceptional opportunity for brands.
Google has also gotten into the visual search game with their own Google Lens, with capabilities that extend beyond the shopping scope, and into events, translation, and even research.
Why Visual Search Is Key for Brands
A recent study found that 62% of Millenial and Gen Z shoppers want the ability to use visual search to discover, identify, and purchase products quickly. With an estimated $3 trillion of combined buying power in 2020, these are consumers that brands want to satisfy and align their interests with. This is particularly true for brands that offer products in low involvement or impulse purchase verticals. The average American spends $2,196 per year on impulse purchases, which means that the brands that are most easily discovered via the buyer’s primary search method stand to reap the benefits of click happy shoppers. For brands that function in a space where there is more time between discovery and purchase, visual search helps ensure that their products are at the forefront of the buyer’s mind and fosters a connection between what the customer desires and how their brand can fulfill it. Gartner has predicted that early adopter brands of visual search capabilities stand to increase their digital commerce revenue by 30%.
Making Visual Search A Part of the Strategy
For brands looking to compete on visual search, there are several key considerations. The first is the degree to which they invest in visual search on their own channels. Some brands have gone as far as enabling visual search on their website, allowing a customer to search for products on the site using an image. While this added functionality is beneficial to the buyer, it does involve a higher level of effort, and the impact is seen only if the customer first makes it to the brand’s direct site. For a wider impact, brands should focus on high quality, detailed imagery of their products that can be distributed and discovered across a multitude of channels in addition to product pages. By leveraging high quality imagery that showcases the products from several angles in tandem with established SEO best practices, brands increase their chances of being a primary match when a consumer executes a visual search.
Visual Search Powered by Product Visualization and 3D Configuration
There is no doubt that high quality imagery will make or break a brand in visual search, but what is the best method for obtaining or creating that imagery? Traditional photography generates high res images, but is expensive and requires updating as products are updated or new styles are released. It also offers limited interactivity as the images are static frames, and zoom capabilities are reliant on the file size. Video offers the opportunity for additional views of the product, but once again would need to be updated regularly. Product visualization, on the other hand, offers high quality, high fidelity images that are easily updated as needed and allow for a more immersive experience from discovery to purchase. For products that allow custom configurations and options, a 3D visual configurator delivers up close and personal views of the products as well as the option to see the exact product the buyer will see at delivery. No more buyer’s remorse when the product does not look as expected from the website. With ATLATL’s visual configuration software, these tools are easily integrated into an existing web experience and designed for easy maintenance and updating as a brand grows and evolves the product catalog. Going beyond the search box, augmented reality allows buyers to visualize their future purchase in their current environment, and drives an increased likelihood of conversion the more they are able to interact with the product.
Is your brand ready to take visual search by storm? Let’s find out.