Why image recognition should be a part of every commerce strategy

Scan & Shop has countless uses, from instant image recognition of packaging and print, to visual search.

With the end of the year approaching, it’s time to start re-evaluating some of your core business strategies. As two of the hottest machine learning advancements to come out in the last few years, image visual search and recognition have been absolute game-changers for many eCommerce and merchandising companies and have resulted in nearly 400 billion dollars in sales in the last few years alone. So, to hit the ground running and compete at the highest level in the new decade, it is important to understand what this technology is, how it works, and how you can efficiently employ it in the new year.

What is Visual Search?

Have you ever seen a dress, handbag, or pair of boots you just HAD to have but couldn’t find? Visual search employs the great advances in artificial intelligence and machine learning to let “bots” find instant matches to similar items. Visual search can be used in a number of creative ways, from retailers serving up “visually similar” items without a merchandiser spending hours to cull through countless products to “link” them to more complex tasks such as identifying the exact item that caught a customer’s eye through a customer’s social post or photograph.

What is Image Recognition?

On the retail front, image recognition has exploded onto the scene as a seamless path for mobile users to make purchases. The visual commerce platform Syndeca recently developed the Scan and Shop image recognition technology to allow consumers to shop by taking pictures of products from a variety of magazines, advertisements, and coupons to facilitate “an instant path to purchase.” The tool uses barcode data on the image or product package to lead customers to a shopping cart that allows them to check out faster than ever before. This demand for a remarkably simple checkout experience will be paramount in the new year, so expect retailers to take advantage of and integrate tools like Scan and Shop for their products at a large scale.

Shop Justice employs image recognition in their mobile apps that uses customers’ scanned images from lookbooks, catalogs, mailers, and magazines to unlock exclusive digital content such as videos, products, and more.

How Will Image Recognition and Visual Search Be Used in 2020?

The wild thing about image recognition is that as time progresses, AI gets smarter, which leads to more uses. Thanks to this continued development, eCommerce merchandisers that push to use the technology will see an uptick in sales. Image recognition creates a more seamless mobile shopping experience, as well as greater product exposure, and has many other uses such as digital content unlocking, access to exclusive products, and offering after-the-sale styling tips simply through scanning.

Additionally, image recognition takes visual search and makes it easier to use. This means users can take a snapshot of an item and technology can determine whether it’s a “known” image (such as the page of a catalog or ad) or a picture of a person wearing an item, then perform a visual search without users having to specify what they’re doing. This will make shopping the easiest it has ever been for the mobile consumer.

Enhanced Product Discovery

In addition to the image recognition services retailers can employ in their mobile apps, these combined technologies can introduce shoppers to relevant products based on what they are already purchasing. This is done through visual and contextual tagging that groups together multiple characteristics, from basic attributes like colors and brands to more complicated characteristics like the category of the product (sports, celebrity, events, etc.).

Getting Started in 2020

To remain competitive in the retail space as we move into the new decade, you’ll want to start outfitting your web presence with a range of AI-backed “superpowers.” Chief among them will be image recognition and visual search. But how do you accomplish “future-proofing” your company in the first place? Although there are numerous ways of doing this, you can start by testing these features and measuring their impact on the customer experience.
Depending on the type of customers you serve, you should choose a service that matches the goal you’re trying to fulfill. No matter what you’re looking to achieve, this kind of digital transformation is inevitable. The faster you get on board, the easier it will be to ride this ever-changing rollercoaster and remain chief amongst your competitors. And if you aren’t up to date yet, have no fear. With so much change and fluctuation in the air, now is as good a time as any to explore your options and start testing.

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