Ecommerce retailers need to keep an eye out for visual search apps in 2015. Though it is not new (Zappos.com developed this feature for their site in 2009), it is quickly gaining speed with major retailers like Macy’s and Neiman Marcus – both of which installed visual search apps in December. Visual search has (and will continue to) revolutionize the way buyers shop online.

What is visual search? More or less exactly what it sounds like – an option to seek out products based on color, size, product and more, either by comparing like items or snapping a photo of an outfit and having similar products populate in your search. It works by “reading” images and noting key identifiers like color, shape, proportions, and even brand names. Though it’s been done via desktop websites (have you seen a “You May Also Like” section at the bottom of product pages?), mobile apps are being developed that allow consumers to take a picture of something they see that piques their interest and search out where to buy like items.

Visual search has the potential to work more effectively than traditional keyword search, as matching key words depends on how well a consumer can describe the product they type into Google. Because retailers aren’t relying on the buyer’s ability to properly articulate and match what they’re shopping for to a store’s keywords, the likelihood of a buyer getting matched with exactly what they’re looking for increases. Apps like Snap It have already been developed to make this type of search readily available for buyers and retailers alike.

Snap It operates as both a marketplace and an app, where consumers can browse through hundreds of thousands of products by color, product and price. Likewise, buyers can upload an image (or insert a URL) to search similar items.

Visual Search For Ecommerce Products

Image upload for visual search in Snap It

Image upload for visual search in Snap It

Results from Snap It visual product search.

Results from Snap It visual product search.

Snap It works for both desktop users, Android and iPhone devices, and now has a downloadable “Snap It” button similar to Pinterest’s “Pin” for offsite image search. Though visual search apps like Snap It work well with fashion, this type of product sourcing is also ideal for home décor, jewelry and accessories, makeup, consumer electronics and more. As these types of search apps gain in popularity and usage, expect the way buyers look for your items to change.

Would you sign up to have your items listed on visual search sites? Or are you waiting for an app to be developed specifically for small business retailers? Let us know in the comments.

Bustos, Linda. “Ecommerce Trend: Keep Your Eyes on Visual Search.” Get Elastic Ecommerce Blog. Elastic Path, 17 Dec. 2014. Web. 22 Dec. 2014.

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