The e-commerce landscape is always evolving, so staying ahead of the game is essential to have an edge over your competitors. One of the most exciting developments in recent years is the integration of artificial intelligence (AI) and visual search. Consumers love a good image quite simply as it helps them to see exactly what they are buying. Imagery and the digital world are so intertwined that many of us digest information through images and photos – you only have to look at the impact of social media on our lives.
The dynamic duo of AI and visual search has the potential to transform the way consumers interact with online stores. As a digital marketing agency with a profound understanding of e-commerce SEO, having been recently crowned Ecommerce Agency of the Year 2023 for the second year running, we’re here to shed light on the game-changing implications of AI-driven visual search.
Here we’ll look at AI and visual search, exploring how this transformative technology can benefit your e-commerce business, looking at the advantages of adopting visual search, and offering insights into integrating this into your website. So, let’s see how your e-commerce marketing strategy can be enhanced.
Visual search allows users to search using images rather than relying on typing in queries using keywords. This approach uses the power of AI to decipher the visual content and retrieve relevant product results. So for example, if you take a photo of or have an image of a pair of trainers you want to buy, you can input this image into a visual search to find out more information about it and potentially purchase the item, even having similar products you may be interested in suggested to you based on this image. For mobile users, this is extremely handy as you can take a photo there and then with your smartphone, upload this to Google through their app, and get the results in an instant. This can be much quicker than typing the query to find exactly what you’re looking for based on the image.
E-commerce has seen a significant shift towards visual content over the years. Product images, infographics, and video content now occupy the forefront of online retail. This is largely driven by changing consumer preferences – shoppers increasingly favour visual content as it offers a more immersive and informative experience. This shift has given rise to the importance of visual search as a means to streamline product discovery and make the online shopping process more intuitive.
Over 36% of consumers have used visual search and over 50% say it is more important than text when shopping online. Furthermore, major players in the e-commerce arena, such as Amazon, Pinterest, and Google, have embraced visual search technology as a core feature of their platforms over the last few years.
For instance, Pinterest Lens empowers users to search for products or ideas by simply taking a photo. Similarly, Amazon’s ‘Part Finder’ lets customers locate the right part by capturing an image. Then there’s Google Lens which allows users to find more information about something by taking a photo or uploading an image. According to Google, Lens is used more than 10 billion times per month, and with AI added to the mix, it will be adding ‘search your screen’ to Android devices in the near future, integrating Lens into other apps.
The visual search trend shows that users want a more intuitive and interactive shopping experience. E-commerce businesses that harness the potential of visual search can provide just that, giving them a competitive edge in a crowded market.
Visual search wouldn’t be possible without AI. It’s AI algorithms that enable the interpretation and understanding of images, making it possible for users to search for products visually. AI visual search relies on sophisticated image recognition, object detection, and deep learning techniques to help transform pixels into actionable data that is useful for those searching.
One of the key advantages of visual search AI integration is the enhanced user experience. Traditional text-based search often relies on precise keywords and can be frustrating when users struggle to describe the exact item they seek. AI visual search, on the other hand, empowers users to quickly find what they need using images. This opens up possibilities for more accurate and satisfying shopping experiences, and as AI continues to improve, it will become the easiest way for consumers to find what they need.
AI is capable of understanding the visual context of an image, so it can recognise objects, colours, shapes, and even contextual details. If someone takes a photo of a stylish sofa they want to find out more about, AI can analyse the image to identify the specific design, colour, and even the texture of the sofa material. This level of understanding goes beyond simple keyword matching and allows for a more nuanced and accurate search experience. It continuously learns and adapts too, and with improved accuracy over time, this will ensure that the system becomes increasingly proficient in recognising and matching images.
Streamlining UX – One of the primary benefits of implementing visual search in your e-commerce digital marketing strategy is the significant improvement it offers in user experience. Visual search allows users to simply show what they want. This not only reduces search time but also enhances the overall shopping experience.
Reducing Search Friction – Visual search AI enables users to skip the step of translating their thoughts into keywords. 74% of consumers find text-based keyword searches inefficient for finding the right products online, so it’s particularly good for when users have a visual image in mind but can’t quite put it into words. This reduction in search friction means customers can quickly and easily find the products they desire.
Boosting Conversion Rates and Revenue – The ease and speed of visual search contributes to higher conversion rates. When users can effortlessly find the products they’re looking for, they are more likely to make a purchase. Additionally, visual ecommerce AI search creates upselling and cross-selling opportunities. For example, if a user searches for a particular style of shoes, it can recommend other accessories or outfits to go with them, increasing the average order value and revenue.
Enhancing Customer Engagement and Loyalty – Implementing visual search can also lead to improved customer engagement and loyalty. You’re more likely to retain satisfied customers who return to your e-commerce platform for their future purchases thanks to the ease of AI visual search.
Competitive Edge – Visual search can help your brand stand out from competitors who have not yet embraced this technology. It positions your e-commerce business as forward-thinking, customer-focused, and technologically advanced. This can be a crucial differentiator in a competitive e-commerce landscape.
Incorporating visual search into your e-commerce digital marketing strategy has clear advantages for both your customers and your business. It not only makes shopping more efficient and enjoyable but also holds the potential to boost your conversion rates and revenue.
Visual search introduces a new dimension to your SEO strategy. Ensuring that your product images are optimised for search engines to understand and index them effectively is important.
Similar to text-based search, the goal of visual search is to rank well in search results for what the user is looking for. When users initiate a visual search for something, your product images can be prominently featured if they match the search query.
As AI visual search technology evolves further, AI ecommerce marketing strategies will continue to adapt and shift. Staying informed about emerging trends and best practices in visual search is crucial for ecommerce brands. Regularly update your product images and descriptions to ensure they remain relevant and optimised.
Like any technology, it’s difficult to predict where it may go. When voice search emerged as the next big thing a few years back thanks to products like Amazon’s Alexa, it took time to establish itself. Now, more than 1 billion voice searches take place every month globally. As technology and consumer behaviour change, visual search will also become more and more prevalent in use and businesses will find it tougher to ignore.
It’s likely to expand beyond traditional e-commerce websites and apps too. It could find applications in social media platforms, where users could easily shop for products they discover in images and videos. This expansion can create new opportunities for businesses to reach potential customers. Amazon and Snapchat launched a virtual try-on shopping experience in 2022, which although initially for sunglasses, will potentially grow into other shopping categories and make use of visual search.
Combining voice-activated commands with visual search could make the technology even more accessible and user-friendly. Users may simply describe what they want and receive visual search results through voice commands. Future visual search technology is likely to focus on delivering highly personalised experiences. AI will become more adept at understanding individual preferences and tailoring search results accordingly.
Visual search AI is certainly poised to shape the future of e-commerce, offering exciting possibilities for both businesses and consumers. We eagerly anticipate what the technology can bring to businesses and how visual marketing for ecommerce will develop further.