- Forever 21 has introduced visual search and navigation based on artificial intelligence (AI) for its e-commerce business, according to a press release. The search tool was first made available for the dresses and tops categories in May, and was listed as "Discover Your Style" in the retailer's iOS app.
- Within a month after the launch of the mobile AI tool, sales conversions at Forever 21 increased, and average purchase value in the two test categories rose 20%. As a result, Forever 21 fast-tracked the integration of the technology on its website, the press release said.
- The feature, developed by Donde Search, lets shoppers search by clicking icons representing attributes desired in an outfit, such as a skirt's length and fit, or a shirt's neckline and color, and not have to type terms into a search bar. The technology employs AI, computer vision and natural language processing to present shoppers with more relevant search results.
Whether for search or other content, retailers are finding that visual images, as well as video, are more effective in engaging consumers and converting them into buyers than plain text. This is especially important in the fashion segment where financial and competitive challenges seemingly lurk behind every mannequin and display table.
Among other retailers adopting visual search-related technology, eBay has rolled out two AI-based image-recognition features, Find It On eBay and Image Search, allowing photo-driven searches. Home Depot has also joined with Pinterest to expand the social network's visual discovery feature called Shop the Look, which included over 100,000 home décor products. In the U.K., fashion retailer Asos found that visual search capabilities on its mobile app have achieved strong engagement with consumers as well.
Forever 21's direct competition is also turning to the technology, with rival H&M rolling out a new e-commerce site and mobile app for the U.S. which includes visual search. Snapchat is developing a visual product search feature to transform cameras on smartphones into tools for shopping on Amazon, and Amazon itself has launched Part Finder, a visual search capability for its mobile shopping app that allows users to take a photo of screws, bolts or other types of fasteners, identify them and perform a search on Amazon.
Forever 21's technology is aimed at imitating how consumers think about products and providing recommendations based on that. "Visual search technology bridges the gap between the convenience of online shopping and the rich discovery experience of traditional retail by enabling our customers to search for clothing in the same way they think about it – using visuals, not words," Alex Ok, president of Forever 21, said in the press release.