Why Text Search Is Limited When It Comes To Online Fashion Shopping

By Eli Cohen, Chief Product Officer

Imagine not having the answer to that question you and co-workers are betting on. That was the reality before the internet emerged - one that millennials cannot even begin to comprehend. The internet solved this problem via text search. With text search, all you need to do is type your query into Google and the answer will appear right in front of your eyes. 

Search is a vital part of our lives. The average person conducts three to four searches per day to the tune of around 63,000 searches per second around the world. At this point, the internet is so well-indexed that we can find any recipe and the answers to the most obscure questions. This is the reality as long as your search query is text-based.

Text Search Is Limited In Visual Product Discovery 

However, it is when you search for a visual product that the indexed internet isn’t able to deliver quite as well. Just look at fashion, where it’s all about how the product looks. 

Let’s say you know exactly how the dress you’ll be wearing to your best-friend’s surprise birthday party will look. Now all you need to do is find that dress. You start typing on your phone or at your computer the exact attributes of your dream dress. You hit enter and nothing shows up. This is because you’ve defined a very specific search query, the catalog is not tagged well and the used terms were not mapped, or the retailer’s attributes are not well defined.

What’s the flip side? Instead of writing the exact attributes, you pick one or two, for example, just color and cut (mini black dress). You hit enter and now you’ve got a new problem - thousands of results, most of them irrelevant, which will take you hours to sort through to find something that matches your style and vision. 

Limitations of Text Search in Online Fashion shopping

Why Shoppers Need An Intuitive Visual Product Discovery 

Visual search navigation allows retailers to present inventory in a way that makes sense to the shopper. For example, in a brick and mortar store, which scenario is accurate?

1. You ask the store associate for “red party dress,” and the clerk pulls out every dressy-casual red item in the store. You refine what you tell your clerk with “red party dress with a cool back,” and the clerk puts everything back on the shelf, telling you they have nothing like that. 


2. Instead of the clerk pulling out every dress-casual red item, she begins to ask questions about relevant details. Long sleeves? Full-length hem or tea-length? Open back? You narrow your options down until the clerk has a few options based on your style.

Obviously, the second scenario is what should happen in the store. Why is online search so different? The answer is simple - it wouldn’t be with visual search navigation. Visual Search Navigation makes it possible to find the items you’re looking for by changing the fundamentals of search altogether.

How Visual Search Navigation Solves Shopstration

Visual Search Navigation is "one of the most important innovations in the e-commerce space in recent years,'' as Forever 21 President Alex Ok has stated. Thanks to deep tagging, visual search navigation gives shoppers the results they want to see faster and with less frustration. Deep tagging software uses the product images to automatically tag all of the items in the retailer’s catalog. With an abundance of tags for each item and computer vision technology, each attribute is represented by an icon, a visual cue that enables the shoppers to see what they are searching for. This significantly reduces the chance of user-based errors, like typos and using the wrong term to describe something visual (for instance, the cut, color or fit). 

Give your customer what they're searching for with Visual Search Navigation

Remember the viral “Dress” debate? People went wild over whether the color of the dress was blue and black, or white and gold. The same could happen when shoppers are left to define the color of their dream dress by themselves in your online catalog. For example, depending on the shade of a red dress, shoppers could call it dark red, burgundy, crimson red, raspberry, light red or wine. Visual Search Navigation puts an end to these user-generated mistakes by implementing visual cues.

However, the benefits of visual search navigation do not stop here. Visual Search Navigation is also better equipped to provide style-base recommendations. The software is able to uncover the customer’s unique style DNA by tracking what cuts, colors, fits, or the items they’ve selected and bought and offer similar items as they shop.  

In addition, Visual Search Navigation overcomes language barriers, expanding an online retail store to customers around the globe. It is, literally, a new visual language. 

Implementing Visual Search Navigation

Customers love visual search navigation; look at Donde’s recent success with Revolve and Forever 21. These results point to a new way of thinking about how we search - from text search to visual discovery, which significantly eliminates the frustration points in the shopping journey that upset customers and often prompts them to leave the site without purchasing anything.

Interested in learning more about Visual Search Navigation? Contact Donde Search to request a demo!