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5 visual search myths debunked just for you

Visual Search is a term that not a lot of people would have heard of and there are plenty of misconceptions about it. Fear not! Delvify are here to clear up the myths that are commonly heard and we are going to thoroughly explain the reality of the possibilities that Visual Search can bring for your brand! 

1. Visual Search is the same as image search


They may sound the same, but are actually radically different! With image search, images are returned as search results regardless of the initial search query input method, e.g. keyword-based search. The technology allows for reverse image search, metadata, keywords and pixel-to-pixel comparisons between images. Search engines like Google and Bing typically use image search to crawl the entire web to support online browsing for the masses.

Visual Search technology, on the other hand, uses AI to understand the content and context of images to return a list of related results. More advanced applications of Visual Search technology can understand the different elements in a photo and use image recognition to identify, classify and tag separate items in an image. This also enables visually similar recommendations alongside the one that the user is viewing, based on visually similar attributes such as color, shape, size, pattern, etc. 

scan i am frankie GIF by Nickelodeon

2. People prefer using keyword-based search


Keyword-based search is a blunt instrument for carving out a nuanced shopping journey. Words are limited in describing something visual. Retail is inherently a visual process and our intuition is wired to think about products visually. There are times when people do not know how to describe what they are looking for in words. eCommerce retailers in Fashion and Home Décor can use Visual Search technology to suggest thematically or stylistically related products to shoppers in a way that is impossible to do using a keyword-based query alone.

When we shop offline, we rarely start with just text. Moreover, we often want to find a new look, ensemble, or theme, rather than one single object. Visual Search helps tie these items together based on aesthetic links in a way that text has never been able to capture. 

Computer Working GIF

Fact Alert! 

  • 90% of information transmitted to the human brain is visual (MIT)
  • The human brain can identify images seen in as quick as 13 milliseconds (MIT)
  • 55% of Pinterest users say Visual Search is instrumental in developing their style and taste (Pinterest) 
  • When shopping online for clothing or furniture, more than 85% of people place more importance on visual information than text information (The Intent Lab) 

3. It's only relevant for the big search engines


Google, Amazon, Pinterest and Bing all developed their own Visual Search engines and have so far led the way in the use of Visual Search Technology.

Fact Alert! 

  • Google Lens is used over 3 billion times per month (Google) 
  • Brands can now target over 5,000 categories through Visual Search advertising on Pinterest Lens (Business Insider) 
  • There are 3x as many Visual Searches on Pinterest as last year (Pinterest) 

black friday shopping GIF by Google

However, that’s only half of it. A whole host of retailers are now using Visual Search technology and examples include:

  • ASOS Style Match allows shoppers to purchase using images 
  • Ted Baker has shoppable videos 
  • Levi’s have experimented with Visual Search on Snapchat 
  • Walmart has developed its own in-house Visual Search technology
  • M&S have launched a mobile Visual Search technology
  • Argos has launched AI-powered Visual Search to connect offline stores with online catalog
  • IKEA has revamped its app to enable shoppable Visual Search at home 

4. It's just a gimmick. Not a lot of people use "Camera search"


Visual Search is way more than simply a camera search. eCommerce retailers see huge benefits from displaying product recommendations for visually similar products. This helps customers make purchase decisions faster as they can review similar products in terms of shapes, colors, styles, fabrics, etc. 

One of the hottest trends that are going to disrupt retail in 2022 is creating personalized experiences. Consumers attach high value to personalized online shopping experiences that help them quickly find the products they need.  Conversely, poor product recommendations result in shoppers avoiding specific sites altogether. Furthermore, the latest data suggests that 80% of consumers are more likely to purchase from a brand that offers personalized content, leading to a 20% uplift in conversion. One way to achieve this is to use visually similar product recommendations that show consumers personalized ‘similar items’ and ‘complete the look’ suggestions based on visual deep tagging, user selections, and shopping intent cues. 

Conor Mckenna Fah GIF by FoilArmsandHog

5. It's a 'nice to have'. it doesn't deliver an ROI


By implementing Visual Search technology, you will create an enhanced customer experience. For example, making product discovery 5x faster, combined with more accurate product recommendations, will deliver a faster, more relevant shopping experience. The commercial benefits then materialize – higher average order values (“AOV”), increased conversion rates, and higher eCommerce sales revenues. Pinterest has also stated that visual discovery generates a more emotional connection with the consumer, resulting in less price sensitivity. Therefore, Visual Search is vital for Direct-to-Consumer brands who rely on quality customer experiences to help promote their value. 

Happy Bobs Burgers GIF

Fact Alert!

  • Forever 21 increased their AOV by 20% through Visual Search (Retail Touch Points)
  • BooHoo enjoyed an 85% higher conversion rate for those using Visual Search, as compared to those who did not (Grit Daily) 
  • BooHoo also stated that when visitors engage with ‘View Similar’ on the product page, the conversion rate is over 100% higher
  • Tommy Hilfiger’s image recognition app is proven to drive new website traffic and engagement

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