Wayfair enables photo-based visual product search

Dive Brief:

  • Wayfair has launched “Search with Photo,” a visual search tool that leverages artificial intelligence to help users find products among its selection of more than 8 million home furnishings that match or are of a similar style to items they take pictures of with their mobile phones, the company announced in a press release emailed to Retail Dive.

  • To use the new feature, shoppers can tap the camera icon in the search bar, which allows them to snap a photo or upload one from their photo library. Within a matter of seconds, shoppers can browse visually similar items available from Wayfair and either purchase them immediately or add products to an Idea Board to save for later or share with others.

  • Wayfair’s visual search feature is available across all devices, spanning iOS and Android phones, tablets and desktop.

Dive Insight:

Visual search became a hot-to-have capability near the end of 2016, as eBay acquired CorrigonGoogle bought Undecidable Labs and just about every other retailer with an e-commerce site or mobile app with shopping features began working with the technology in one way or another.

It's all in the name of making it as easy as possible for shoppers to shop, and doing everything possible to encourage that phrase retailers love to hear — impulse buy. One of the ideas here with Wayfair's Search with Photo feature is that consumers can be anywhere — as long as they have their camera-enabled mobile phone with them, they can start the shopping journey whenever a piece of furniture strikes them as interesting.

Wayfair needs to keep working hard to make shopping easy for its customers, as the company not only has fellow e-commerce retailer Amazon to contend with, but also increasing competition from Target. Wayfair has always been pretty aggressive on the technology front, specifically with 3-D, virtual reality and other visual technology tools. These tools — Search with Photo now included — are helping Wayfair create a customer experience that will stand out in a competitive market.

All of that technology investment doesn't come cheap, of course, and despite recent revenue growth, Wayfair has paid the price for its aggressive technology spending as profit has remained elusive. At some point, the company hopes to turn the corner, and Search with Photo could be a feature that helps it do that. It's a feature that should make Wayfair more shoppable for mobile users, and with more than 43% of its orders coming through mobile devices in the fourth quarter of 2016, the technology can help build on a category that is already one of its strengths.

Filed Under: Technology Marketing E-commerce Mobile Commerce
Top image credit: Wayfair