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American Eagle Outfitters focuses on image recognition in search bar

American Eagle Outfitters is the latest retailer to adopt image recognition technology and showcase it prominently in its application’s search bar to better meet the needs of younger shoppers.

The retail chain is partnering with visual search platform Slyce, with new capabilities expected to go live for American Eagle Outfitters’ customers in the next two weeks. As a result, shoppers will be able to point their smartphone cameras at real-world items to find similar products in its inventory as well as scan the retailer’s catalog and bar codes.

“Visual Search is growing 20 percent month over month for our retail partners, and has proven to be one of the most popular search modes among millennials and Gen X,” said Ted Mann, president at Slyce.

“When you look at the overall trends, more than 3 billion photos are shared every day via social and taking a photo has become the most popular in-store mobile activity,” he said.

America Eagle Outfitters operates more than 1,000 stores and ships to 81 countries worldwide.

Universal scanning
American Eagle Outfitters will use Slyce’s Universal Scanner product, which enables image recognition of clothing and products as well as catalog and bar code scanning.

Slyce reports that retailers that have adopted visual search technology are starting to move this feature into the search bar on their apps, indicated by a camera icon appearing in search bar. This puts the capability front and center and makes it easy to access.

As visual search technology matures, its accuracy is also improving, per Mr. Mann. This means users are more likely to be able to scan an item and find something similar in a retailer’s inventory.

“We’ve been able to get our accuracy above 90 percent – which have been independently validated by our retail partners,” Mr. Mann said. “We believe that is a critical quality threshold to driving repeat usage.”

A clearer picture
American Eagle Outfitters continues to built out its mobile capabilities, including with mobile chat (see story) and by building a leading mobile Web site (see story).

Image recognition technology will boost the retailer’s mobile strategy even higher.

A number of retailers have adopted image recognition technology over the past few years.

Earlier this year, Best Buy incorporated visual search technology into its Android mobile application, allowing users to hover their device over any image and make an instant purchase (see story).

Last fall, Shoe Carnival continued to ramp up in mobile commerce by investing in mobile visual search technology (see story).

Urban Outfitters also embraced visual search around the same time (see story).

“Most retailers are utilizing Slyce to power both 3D object search, as well as bar code scanning and 2D scanning of catalogs and signage,” Mr. Mann said. “Two D scanning has also been popular as a way to activate direct mail, since visual-search catalog scanning qualifies for a large postage discount from the US Postal Service and Canada Post.”