Pinterest is fully automating curation of its Shop the Look feature. It previously relied on computer vision technology and human curators to match pinned images to products that users can buy from Pinterest partners, the company stated in an email to Retail Dive.
The new approach, which allows Pinterest to easily scale the capability across the billions of images it shows users, is now available on home decor scenes for users of iOS devices, with an Android version also in the works, the company stated in a blog post.
Pinterest said that under the new process, Shop The Look Pin coverage increased by 22.5 times, and in early testing the automated process showed a 7% increase in user engagement.
This upgrade comes almost exactly two years after Pinterest launched Shop the Look and related capabilities, including visual search tool Pinterest Lens, as it embarked on efforts to make its image-centric social media platform more shoppable.
The evolution to a fully automated system may have been in the works from the very beginning. Pinterest's growing network of images requires services that are scalable, and can continue to scale very quickly as the network keeps expanding. The migration also could be seen as an indication of Pinterest's growing trust in computer vision and machine learning technology to support the service without the help of human curators.
All around the industry, retailers are using technologies like computer vision, artificial intelligence and machine learning on an increasingly frequent basis to enable everything from cashierless stores like Amazon Go to personalization to e-commerce fraud detection.
As retailers become comfortable relying on the technology, and as consumers become comfortable interacting with these services, it stands to reason that more aspects of shopping and customer engagement will become more automated. The biggest challenge for Pinterest and other companies that aggressively pursue increased automation is making sure it meets requirements for performance, reliability and customer satisfaction.