expert strategies

Trending in 2015 – Visual Search

Ecommerce retailers need to keep an eye out for visual search apps in 2015. Though it is not new ( 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.

About the Author

Tiana Byers


Tiana is a content marketer and writer. Her favorite author is Oscar Wilde and she is a self proclaimed Etsy addict.

Tiana ByersTrending in 2015 – Visual Search

Comments 5

  1. Jennifer Vermorel

    Visual search has a great potential, in store and while on the go with the mobile as you said. I’d like to add we cannot stop to only image recognition when it comes to visual search : it would be a shame to underestimate its full potential.
    At Xilopix, we focus on developing a visual search engine based on images and medias, instead of keywords. We believe it has the potential to be truly universal and appeal to anyone regardless of its native language. For E-Commerce purposes, our search engine proves to be convenient and the most efficient when you want to browse for something without have to struggle and find the right words to describe it. Please feel free to check us out :

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    2. David Wiser

      Here is a visual search API startup from Silicon Valley. By using their Visual Search API, any online shopping websites should be able to build their own visual search enabled shopping websites and Apps. Check out and documentation

  2. Luiggino

    I believe more than ever in visual search for the fashion industry. Online retailers neede it because is impossible to classify well and find good products online. Sometimes is frustrating. Checking i found this guys that have an awesome technology and you maybe don’t know them:

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      Tiana Byers

      We agree – the fashion industry was definitely one of the first to jump on board with visual search. As a buyer, its something I look for now when shopping online to avoid scrolling through page after page of dresses, if I am looking for a very specific style of blue dress. Thanks for your thoughts!


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