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Best Buy plugs scan-to-shop search feature into Android app

Best Buy is bringing an interactive spin to the catalog-browsing experience by incorporating visual search technology into its Android mobile application, allowing users to hover their device over any image and make an instant purchase.

The consumer electronics retailer has teamed up with mobile visual search company Slyce to power the new feature, which is now available for Android app users. Shoppers interested in a specific item displayed in the brand’s circular can skip a visit to a Best Buy location to purchase directly on mobile.

“Although we can’t comment on Best Buy’s implementation specifically, providing shoppers with ability to simply hover their mobile device over any product in a circular ad, have that product matched exactly and able to be purchased in just a few taps, takes all the friction from the purchase process and enables shoppers to easily act on impulse,” said Mark Elfenbein, president and CEO of Slyce.

Powering up impromptu purchases
Consumers perusing Best Buy’s Sunday circular may be inspired to look more closely at an interesting product. Instead of heading to their desktop devices to search for the item on Best Buy’s Web site, they can reach for their omnipresent smartphones instead.

Then, individuals may leverage Slyce’s scan-to-shop technology to snap a photo of the desired item, which the app will transform into a visual search query. This eliminates the need for app users to manually search for the product and potentially sift through hundreds of related items.

Visual search technology has historically lent itself well to fueling impulse purchases, a major benefit for retailers seeking to maximize their digital sales. Consumers tapping this novelty feature will have less time to second-guess their decisions.

The fact that shoppers will not need to visit a bricks-and-mortar location throws another point in favor toward spur-of-the-moment purchases. Consumers can continue with their daily tasks instead of interrupting their workflow or time with family to pop into a Best Buy store.

“For retailers that are heavily competing for shopper attention during peak shopping periods, those that provide customers with the best, most intuitive shopping experiences, most commonly come out on top,” Mr. Elfenbein said. “Undoubtedly, using visual search technology to offer potential customers the ability to turn their desire for an item they’ve seen in printed material into a purchase in a very seamless way, can play an integral role in increasing market share.”

Streamlined mobile payment solutions are able to cushion the shopping experience even further for users who opt to purchase via smartphones. A transaction can be completed in mere seconds, thanks to third-party payment services, such as Apple Pay and Visa Checkout, adopted by many top merchants.

While Slyce’s visual search tool is currently available for Best Buy’s Android app only, an iOS rollout is planned for later in the year.

Visual search domination
Best Buy is not the only retailer to leverage in-app scan-to-shop features. Shoe Carnival continues to ramp up in mobile commerce by investing in mobile visual search technology, enabling customers to point a smartphone at an item of interest and find it in the retailer’s inventory (see story).

Additionally, Urban Outfitters is going beyond the standard millennial retailer’s digital commerce offerings by collaborating with Slyce to integrate scan-to-shop features into its mobile app (see story).

Visual search is one technology that consumers can certainly expect to come across more frequently as the year progresses.

“For retailers, the alternative to adopting exact match mobile technology for printed material is an unnecessarily cumbersome, multistage process for shoppers, which is far more likely to result in abandonment,” Mr. Elfenbein said.

“Providing the facility for shoppers to simply hover their smartphone over a product and have that instantly ready to purchase, almost completely reduces friction within that purchasing journey.”