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Is visual search the way forward?

 

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Instead of typing their search into a text bar online and sifting through thousands of results, US Target customers will now be able to snap a picture of the item they’re looking for and within seconds see a selection of products that are visually similar.

Whether it’s a co-worker’s stylish jumper, a couch in just the right shade or an adorable baby crib—finding the perfect product will be just a picture away.

The experience is thanks to a partnership with Pinterest, which launched its visual search tool Pinterest Lens in February this year. To begin with Target will introduce the feature into its registry offering before adding it to the Target mobile app.

Although visual search isn’t new, the growing popularity of mobile apps makes it easier to implement and encourage customers to use.

Target is convinced the tech is the way of the future, saying in a statement it is “poised to change the way we shop”. In fact, according to the retailer, by 2020 image and speech search (like asking Siri or Alexa to find something for you) could make up 50 per cent of all searches.

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Kristi Argyilan, Target senior vice president, media and guest engagement, said the technology offers shoppers an easier way to browse and buy, while promoting a feeling of discovery.

“We’ll be the first—and exclusive—US retailer to bring Pinterest Lens directly into our apps and experiences, creating an incredibly rich and much easier way for our guests to explore, discover and buy millions of products at Target,” she said.

Not only does the tool make shopping easier, Target chief marketing officer Rick Gomez said it will also help the retailer predict and plan for upcoming trends.

“This Pinterest partnership quite literally helps us shorten the distance from when our guests have an idea to when they’re ready to make a purchase,” he said.

“It’s another way we’re making it easy and fun for our guests to explore and find new products. Plus, as we start to understand what shoppers are really looking for, it’ll help us better anticipate—and plan for—the latest styles and trends.”

Online fashion retailer Asos also launched visual search recently, adding the feature to its UK mobile app to help shoppers find what they’re looking for among 85,000 product lines.

With an audience of 20-somenthing digital natives, mobile is an extremely important channel for Asos. Nearly 80 per cent of its UK traffic and approximately 70 per cent of UK sales comes from a mobile device, which means the retailer is always looking at ways to make mobile browsing and buying better, said ASOS digital product director Andy Berks.

Target Pinterest Lens

Asos visual search tool.

“We know [mobile] is where our customers are and it’s how they interact with us every day, so we’re always looking for mobile-native ways to make their experience even better,” he said.

“Inspiration can strike you anywhere and at any time—whether it’s a photo in a magazine, scrolling through an Instagram feed or even on a local street corner. Now, with just a couple of taps of their mobile device, Asos customers can capture that fleeting moment and instantly search our 85,000 product lines to find the item that’s inspired them—or similar—at just the right time.”

 

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