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Visually Similar Search: The Future of Visual Search

By Laura Taylor • Sunday Apr 4th, 2021

Visually Similar Search

Helping customers find their purchases is the main goal of any eCommerce site, right?

Whether that be through smart navigation bars, intuitive product recommendations, clever product merchandising or, in this case, searching.

Exploring products and browsing ranges is all part of the online shopping experience. But that doesn’t mean users want to be aimlessly scrolling through categories they have no interest in. 

It’s a careful balancing act to keep customers engaged whilst also letting them explore and be inspired by products they weren’t necessarily expecting to find. 

That’s where Visually Similar Search comes in. Let’s take a look at what this tool is and how it can help enhance the shopping experience and increase sales. 

Related: Discover all there is to know about visual search.

Getting to know Visually Similar Search

It’s scientifically proven that humans can process images faster than text. 

But up until recently, most online experiences revolved around text - be it from the first user interface to search capabilities. 

As technology advances, AI is creating a more human experience in the online realm and part of this involves the move to a more visual affair.  

When buying online, people are basing the majority of their purchase decision on imagery - so it makes sense to allow them to use this to filter, refine and inspire their product discovery process. 

If people are making a judgment on a purchase based on an image, then surely it makes sense for them to use images as their search terms?

Here’s where Visually Similar Search comes in.

Sometimes a user can be browsing a product, but it just doesn't quite hit the mark.

In that case, let them use this product image as a query to search for visually similar items in your catalogue.

Or maybe they love the colour of a product and want to see what other items you offer in that colour.

Taking this multi-search approach will ensure you’re covering all bases and providing customers with the tools they need to find their ideal product. 

Visually Similar Search features eCommerce sites need

1. Crop functionality

Ever liked the pattern of a product but not the shape? Or have you been inspired by the style of an item but were looking for a different colour?

Allow your customers to conduct hyper-personalised searches with crop functionality.

This way they can select a small feature of an image or product as their refined search query to discover products with similar qualities. 

2. Product page inspiration

Search doesn’t necessarily have to be a starting point. 

Integrating a visually similar search button on product pages will allow customers to browse similar items without having to start from scratch in the search box. 

By offering search functionality throughout the user journey, customers can approach the shopping experience in a way that is most convenient for them. 

Not only will this make the search experience seamless for customers, but it will also provide you with an upsell opportunity to showcase similar products at a higher price point - offering the potential to boost AOV.

3. Image upload

Whether it’s a screenshot or a saved image, image upload functionality is the core driver of visual search.

Allowing customers to upload their inspiration from wherever they find it, in whatever format, will make your site more accessible and ensure you’re the first choice in your sector for customers.

4. Mobile optimisation

Since most of us now use our mobile devices as our only camera, making sure shoppers can search by image on a phone is a must.

Transferring images across devices isn’t something customers want to be spending their time doing and may prevent customers from discovering your products. 

If you’re wanting to gain the benefits visual search can offer, it needs to be accessible on your site across all platforms and devices. 

With mobile usage outperforming desktop usage, making sure every aspect of your site performs well on mobile devices is crucial - and that includes visual search.

5. Visually Similar Search in Recommendations

Connecting your strategies across all of your tools ensures you’re getting the most out of your CRO products and creating a hyper-personalised shopping experience.

By merging the product suggestion capabilities of two AI tools, such as your recommendations unit and Visually Similar Search,  you can create an enhanced shopping experience to enable users to discover even more products.

What’s next?

As you might be able to tell, we have a lot to say about Visually Similar Search, so much so that we recently did a whole webinar delving into the inner workings of visual search. We recorded the whole session and you can catch up in the video below.

If you’d like to find out how Visually Similar Search can increase sales on your site, book a demo with a member of our team now.