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Innovation

Why you’re about to see more retailers offering visual search

The last two years have seen a handful of major Australian retailers roll out visual search tools, including Cue, Temple & Webster and The Iconic.

While the technology, which allows customers to search for an item on a retailer’s website using an image rather than a keyword, has become somewhat more mainstream, its implementation has still been limited to technically-savvy, mobile-first retailers like the ones listed above.

But that may be about to change.

The software giant Salesforce, which offers marketing and CRM solutions to several local retailers, including Cotton On, has just announced a new visual search tool.

Announced at NRF’s Big Show in New York City on Monday, the tool uses the software company’s artificial intelligence (AI) platform, known as Einstein, to recommend items in a retailer’s inventory that are visually similar to a photo or screenshot uploaded by the customer.

 

Much like Apple’s ARKit release, which saw several retailers embed new augmented reality features in their mobile apps, Salesforce’s launch is expected to drive a surge in the number of retailers offering visual search.

Visual search is likely to become more widespread in retail going forward, as businesses adapt to the behaviour of younger, mobile-first shoppers.

The Iconic’s chief technology officer Zoe Ghani noted in 2017, at the launch of the retailer’s ‘Snap to Shop’ feature, that two out of three shoppers were already purchasing items on their mobile device.

“With two out of three of our shoppers purchasing via…mobile devices this year alone, we know there is a strong demand for a mobile-first and more personalised shopping experience,” she said.

Temple & Webster chief information officer Mike Henriques said last year that he expects AI to to have a significant impact on retail in the years ahead.

“AI technology is having a hugely transformative effect on a range of industries globally and we recognised early-on the opportunities that it holds for the furniture and homewares space,” he said.

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