Walmart testing in-house visual search technology
Walmart’s home furnishing e-commerce site, Hayneedle, is partnering with Walmart Labs to test its own in-house visual search technology, according to a TechCrunch report. Shoppers will reportedly be able to take a picture of a piece of furniture in a showroom or magazine then use an app to find a comparable product on Hayneedle.com.
The report, which stated that the testing began last March and has since gradually expanded, comes more than a year after Hayneedle began working with vendor partner Slyce to support visual search capabilities.
The test marks the first time that Walmart Labs has worked closely with one of its e-commerce properties to collaborate on the development and testing of a new technology, according to TechCrunch.
Visual search has tremendous potential to change how consumers find products they want, and to influence how quickly they might make a decision to buy an item. It’s also a technology that is available to retailers now from third-party sources, such as Slyce, which previously told Retail Dive it has worked with dozens of retailers.
Some online retailers have been very quick to adopt this technology. In addition to Hayneedle’s move last year, Target worked with Pinterest to support visual searches, and just a week ago Farfetch turned to Syte for visual search.
Walmart may view visual search as strategic enough to warrant having its own and managing proprietary technology so the company can eventually scale up throughout its empire.
That doesn’t mean third-party visual search technology specialists are doomed. Not every retailer will have in-house talent to develop their own visual search. Some retailers may work with a partner to get a program up and running while they continue to develop their own technology.
In any case, most retailers that see a need to support visual search right now will likely work with vendor partners to get it out as quickly as possible. In some cases, that partner may be a social media site that already has embraced visual search for its own purposes. By partnering with Pinterest or Snapchat (Amazon aligned with the latter), retailers can feed off visual product searches conducted by the members of such sites.