Is visual search the future of e-commerce | The Financial Express

Is visual search the future of e-commerce

Voice search and visual search are two of the most significant changes being adopted by e-commerce platforms worldwide

Is visual search the future of e-commerce
Implementing visual search in the fashion industry would prove immensely beneficial to the consumer

By Vaibhav Lall

As online marketplaces trumped offline marketspaces, retail businesses changed the way their consumers interact with their products. These online marketplaces are also going through some rather convenient changes to their foundations relative to search and user experience.

Only a few decades ago, retailers primarily relied on word of mouth and similar traditional advertising methods. With the advent of the internet and the growth of its users, advertising business and retail business saw a drastic alteration to their core practices.

Driving conversions in today’s digital world is all about meticulously planned campaigns, using the right marketing tools, and the ability to understand data as it comes by. Not using the most recent marketing tools proves to be utterly debilitating for businesses. In a market where competition is ripe, and consumers demand convenience, using the latest tools technology has to offer is the clear road forward.

Voice search and visual search are two of the most significant changes being adopted by e-commerce platforms worldwide. With people wanting to spend as little time shopping as possible and an imploding appetite for convenience, these changes fall precisely in line with the mindset of the current age of consumers. Businesses that realize this and implement the needful would see a rise in their bottom line.

The apparent potential of visual search

Visual search is essentially a much faster, more efficient method to conduct searches online. In contrast to text, it uses images to return several results that match that particular search. Using image recognition techniques, search engines can provide you with incredibly relevant results.

For example, imagine you are looking for something specific. A quick Google search might bring you closer to your target, but it could potentially take time to land on the exact product you were looking for, if you do at all.

Visual search essentially allows you to take an image and use sophisticated software. A search engine can find the exact item you were looking for. Since the technology is relatively new and hasn’t been experimented with in excess, the accuracy of a visual search varies. However, it steadily improves as more prominent companies that can harvest vast chunks of data continuously refine their search engines. The additional use of machine learning has also allowed the technology to reach a more refined state.

Most searches today start as text, but the visual information conducts your search. The basic idea of visual search and implementing it can save consumers time and effort. Visual search has the upper hand over generic text search when it comes to accuracy.

Tools designed to aid visual search already exist. softwares like Pinterest Lens and Google Lens are readily available and use visual search to display incredibly accurate and relevant results.

Visual search has even found a stepping stone to the genuinely limitless potential within the eCommerce ecosystem. Since many consumers actively use eCommerce platforms to shop for everything from fashion to food, better, more innovative, more effective search tools might prove highly functional in driving conversions. No doubt, visual search is one of these revolutionary tools that can allow consumers better, more relevant search results and help businesses drive growth by making things easier for said consumers.

A win-win situation for both parties, the advancing technology will bring that ease and convenience to online searches.

Visual search and e-commerce

With improving technologies and consumers wanting more from platforms in terms of convenience and ease of use, visual search and voice search has seen impressive growth within the past few years. The visual search might not be there in terms of absolute performance, but it is steadily becoming a standard for e-commerce shopping.

Yes, visual search technology is not highly refined, but customers also have not displayed a changing trend in online searches. Conventional search is preferred; visual and voice search still requires tweaking, but they are the new path forward.

According to multiple studies, the global visual search market will grow by 9% in the next two years. Currently, only 8% of retailers have built-in software that accommodates visual search. However, the number is bound to increase once the general consumer wakes up to the potential of visual search.

Brands that adopt these systems early would find themselves leading the rest of the bunch towards a much more convenient search protocol. Redesigning existing platforms to accommodate visual and voice search potential might prove difficult, but the developing technology might soon become a mainstay in the digital ecosystem. Studies by Gartner estimate that brands that affix visual and voice search to their platforms would see a potential rise in revenue by 30%. The current state of the technology might not be as effective; however, this will change as the digital landscape evolves, and so does this technology along it.

Implementing visual search in the fashion industry would prove immensely beneficial to the consumer, who can search for a clothing item or accessory by just clicking a picture and uploading it and the brand; that sees greater conversions due to increased consumer engagement.

A visual search would help in higher product discovery accuracy, and therefore conversions. Plus, the added benefit of a clear vision into customer motivations to provide a highly customized experience.

Visual search will also allow consumers to select from a massive catalogue of similar-looking products while removing any language barriers while shopping online. A unique method to search online, visual search proves quite the experience on the user’s part, where their convenience and ease of use are indeed better.


Online search has become an indispensable part of our lives, and the background algorithms that enable such a swift display of results have also gotten increasingly sophisticated. Visual search is at the center of this changing landscape and will be the radical paradigm that effectively alters the way we shop forever.

Visual search, no doubt, has the potential to change how we interact with the online market space. The biggest challenge would be mass technology adoption; however, once it finds its wind, the rise could be astronomical, more impactful than anything we have seen before.

(The author is founder, Khojdeal. Views expressed are personal.)

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