About two months after U.K. fashion retailer Asos launched visual search capabilities in its mobile app, the retailer is saying the feature has already achieved strong engagement and could redefine how consumers shop in-app, according to a Digiday report.
The report comes as Asos announced a 34% sales growth through the first eight months of the year and raised its 2018 fiscal year sales outlook. The retailer attributed much of its ongoing success to aggressive investment in new technology.
Richard Jones, director of product management at Asos, declined to provide Digiday with numbers to back up the engagement claim, but he did say that shoppers using the visual search feature tend to remain in the app for longer periods of time.
Asos updated its iOS app with the visual search capability back in August and thus far, it's claiming to have "great engagement" with the feature.
Digiday's report also noted that more than 50% of Asos product orders come through a mobile device and that the average app user spends about 80 minutes per month in the app. Also, about 70% of the retailer's worldwide traffic is via mobile. All of this speaks to the kind of online shopper Asos draws — one that is comfortable and experienced at shopping via mobile, and in fact spends a lot of time doing that.
It makes sense that these mobile-savvy shoppers are quick to embrace any interesting new app features, but visual search in general has exploded onto the online shopping scene in recent months. Awareness and availability of these features seem to be reaching a tipping point, with Walmart-owned Hayneedle rolling out visual search last month and Wayfair launching it earlier this year.
Perhaps the most significant recent announcement, however, was Target's partnering with Pinterest for Pinterest Lens visual search. That move may have pushed visual search toward becoming table stakes for any large international retailer.
Asos isn't the first retailer to enter the visual search game, but its overall attitude toward embracing new technology will likely help it continue to refine and improve a technology capability that can sometimes suffer from image recognition shortcomings and search return accuracy issues. The company is continuing to develop tools around artificial intelligence, augmented reality and other technologies.
Asos CEO Nick Beighton said on the company's recent fiscal fourth quarter earnings call that the company is also zeroing in on creating localized experiences for shoppers in different countries, with seven country-specific websites and apps already. "By the end of FY '18, this will be 20 in our top 20 markets," he said on the call, according to the Seeking Alpha transcript. "This will be new localized, web and mobile experiences."
While Asos works to take the shopping experience to a local level, visual search is something that could help the shopping experience become more personalized, as the app provides product recommendations based on the images that customers search. That feature could keep app users coming back to the app frequently — and for even longer shopping sessions.