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Tilly’s streamlines shopping via visual-search technology

Users open a mobile website on their smartphone, snap photos of desired items within any of Tilly’s seasonal collection catalogs, and purchase the item directly at the moment of impulse. The application, built on Slyce’s Snap Shop visual-search platform, is an example of how mobile is playing a greater role in deepening customer engagement while driving the decision process that leads to a purchase.

“Mobile is obviously becoming a prominent force in retail,” said Mark Elfenbein, CEO of Toronto-based Slyce. “Creating functionality like Snap Shop is about giving our customers the most simple way to move from desiring a product to purchasing that product and making that experience as enjoyable as possible.

“For companies which have substantial mailing lists of customers which receive printed catalogs, by combining the mobile visual search element, their customers are able to get the rich experience of flipping through the pages and seeing products in different contexts,” he said. “But the ability to act on the desire to purchase can then be made incredibly easy and efficient.”

Moment of impulse
Tilly’s customers browsing through any of the seasonal catalogs will open the Tilly’ mobile website on their smartphone, tap the camera icon to snap a photo of a desired item and be taken directly to a checkout page where the item can be purchased – at the moment of impulse.

Tilly’s has moved for some time to use mobile to streamline the mobile shopping experience, as well as build the company’s loyal customer base.

Early last year, it worked with MicroStrategy to help develop an app that provided access to exclusive contests, news, deals and downloads. The app also featured a digital wallet that allowed for personalized promotions and receipts.

Advancements in visual search are setting the stage for a major shift in how people interact with the world around them and how those selling can better interact with those buying.

By combining advanced image recognition technology with search algorithms, social network integrations, mobile specific technologies such as NFC (Near Field Communication) and BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy), visual search companies allow users to perform highly intuitive queries based solely on what they see, both online and in the world around them.

The technology could allow one to snap a photograph of the Statue of Liberty and receive detailed information about its history, tour schedules, pricing, nearby restaurants and even which Facebook friends might be in the area.

In another example, taking a picture of a baseball diamond could produce historic game results or Little League registration information.

Acting intuitively
Visual search aims to enable customers to act intuitively around items that catch their eye. Rather than having to describe items using keywords as with traditional search, a process that can be frustrating and unproductive for fashion, visual search enables people to search directly by image and find exact matching products and those which are similar.

Slyce’s visual search platform integrates with retail brands and digital content providers to give customers the ability to instantly discover and purchase products that inspire them by simply snapping photographs with their smartphones or clicking images on either their smartphones  or desktop web browsers.

“The majority of e-commerce retailers are consistently looking for ways to enhance the customer experience and increase their conversion rates,” Mr. Elfenbein said.

“There remains a difficulty in selling large items on a small screen and so, knowing that comfort around purchasing on mobile devices is growing rapidly, we are able to create situations where our customers can view items away from their device but utilize the convenience of mobile when deciding to make a purchase.”