Visual Search Made Better

By Eli Cohen, Chief Product Officer

Think of the last thing you searched for on the internet. Maybe it was a chocolate cake recipe or a local restaurant. It could have been something to win a friendly argument (keywords: Pennywise actor name).You found the answer right away because the pages containing the information you’re looking for are indexed and thus easily searchable with the right keywords.

Online shops, however, are different. Shopping is, will be, and has always been a visual experience. You may not always know what the exact keyword or term by which you should be searching. And if you’re like the 76% of American adults who shop online, you’re most likely not happy when you’re unsuccessful or encounter challenges in finding that one thing you need. This feeling even has its own unique term — “Shopstration”, coined by Donde’s Founder Liat Zakay.

Online shoppers aren’t the only ones frustrated with search. Online retailers use your search activities to understand customer behavior and make predictions. When searches don’t fit into neat boxes, it’s harder to take advantage of this information. This is where Visual Search Navigation, the more effective and more useful successor to visual search, comes in.

The Pros And Cons Of Visual Search?

Visual search, also known as “snap and shop”, emerged into the retail market a few years ago. However, since its arrival, online shoppers and retailers have discovered several major barriers throughout the visual search use-case. This is why only about 3% of consumers regularly use visual search.

Firstly, in order to use visual search you need an image. Perhaps you see someone wearing an item you like, you now need to take a photo of it. Maybe this person is someone you know, but in many cases, it’s someone you don’t know, who you’re seeing for the first time, and for a split second, on the street. Taking a quick snapshot of them could not only be difficult, but also very uncomfortable. 

Taking a picture of a blouse you’ve fallen in love with on Instagram isn’t any easier than the previous case, due to the social media platform’s settings, which do not allow users to download/save images. But let’s say that you managed to snap a picture of that item you saw and must have. The big barrier now would be quality. Visual search relies on the uploaded image having optimal lighting and clear-cut angle of the item. But, let’s face it, most user-generated content (UGC) is taken by regular people, not professional photographers, which more often than not, lead to photos that fall short of visual search’s quality standards. 

Secondly, say you did manage to snap a photo of an item you’d like to add to your closet, where can you upload this image? You would need to go to several fashion leaders’ website to upload the image (and that, of course, is only if they have implemented visual search on their website).  

Lastly, while visual search can be sensitive to key visual aspects like color and pattern, the technology has yet been able to identify other attributes like neckline or a special sleeve. Therefore, the results you will get will most likely not resemble the item you were looking for. Also, visual search is a "one time action"⁠ — you get one set of results with no option to refine them to get more accurate results that resemble what you were actually looking for.

What is Visual Search Navigation?

Visual Search Navigation revolutionizes the online shopping experience by helping fashion retailers, not just by cataloging inventory online, but by imitating the way customers are thinking about it. Visual Search Navigation provides a better tool for searching that returns fewer irrelevant results and cuts down on time spent searching for that one piece.

This product discovery tool allows customers to search by specific attributes — no uploaded picture required. As the user selects attributes associated with that particular item (like medium-length dress), the algorithm begins to narrow down dresses in the shop’s inventory one by one, just like you’d do in a store. This is made possible by deep tagging, the power behind Visual Search Navigation, which gives each product a rich set of visual attributes. 

Donde visual search navigation

Visual Search Navigation also enhances the customer’s online shopping experience by removing the need for menus and filters that create a cluttered experience and often take the shopper away from the shopping flow.

With Visual Search Navigation, online shoppers enjoy on-the-fly filtering, which allows them to actually see the results as they select the next attribute associated with their dream item. The instant results, attribute by attribute, truly put the power at the customer’s fingertips enabling them to dynamically redefine their results at all times.

This is a welcomed advancement to all online shoppers, but especially to those who shop on their smartphones where screen size has a great impact on the shopping experience. This is especially important on the retailer’s side because sales made directly through mobile devices are expected to reach $209 billion by 2022

How Visual Search Navigation Gives Retailers A Much Needed Edge   

Visual Search Navigation uses AI and computer vision technology to connect customers to the products they are most likely to buy and finally removes “shopstration” from your shopping experience and increases the Average Order Value (AOV). REVOLVE, for example, improved conversion rates up to 16% in key categories by using Donde’s Visual Search Navigation.

Forever 21, also noticed significant gains in conversions within a month of introducing an iOS app segment, “Discover Your Style,” another application of Donde’s unique visual discovery tech. The average purchase value rose by 20% in test categories, prompting them to roll it out on the website itself.

Visual Search Navigation Is The ONLY Way To Go

Visual Search Navigation is intuitive and gives online shoppers on the fly filtering without having to type keyword combinations or use cluttered menus and filter screens. In turn, online retailers see great returns thanks to this technology, including less overhead, higher AOV, and increased online sales conversions. And if your customers get what they want faster and smarter on your website with Visual Search Navigation, they may not shop anywhere else.

Want to learn more about Donde’s AI-powered Visual Search Navigation? Follow us on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, and Instagram.