Walmart's Hayneedle debuts app with visual search
Online home furnishings and decor retailer Hayneedle has launched its first iOS mobile app, which includes visual search capability enabled by Slyce, among other capabilities, according to a press release.
The Hayneedle app also allows users to search based on their style preferences, save items to a favorites list and complete their purchases via Apple Pay. Users are also offered access to Hayneedle’s best prices and limited time offers in the ‘Deals’ section of the app.
Slyce CEO Ted Mann told Retail Dive in a phone interview that Hayneedle is the 26th retailer to go live with the technology, and that he expects Slyce to be working with around 40 retailers by the end of the year.
It has been about 18 months since e-commerce juggernaut Jet acquired Hayneedle. Jet was later acquired by Walmart as part of that retail giant’s busy run of e-commerce buyouts. We haven’t heard too much about Hayneedle since all of that happened, but this mobile app launch — and the inclusion of visual search technology — suggests that Hayneedle is not about to become a quiet nesting doll inside Walmart’s increasingly-massive e-commerce holdings.
While the online retailer could have stuck to the basics with its first-ever mobile app, the choice to enable visual search thrusts it into a sphere with several other forward-looking retailers. The capability has been embraced by the likes of Amazon, eBay and Pinterest, launching retailers like Neiman Marcus, which had the capability at least two years ago and Wayfair, which launched something similar in May into the game.
While not all retailers have the capability yet, especially in-app, Ryan Paulson, vice president of technology at Hayneedle, told Retail Dive via e-mail that visual search is close to becoming a must-have capability. "The industry has really just begun to scratch the surface of what ‘visual search’ means, and how it can expand the rest of the customer’s experience," he said. "As consumers, we’re all surrounded by images of the things we want, whether it’s the patio set at a neighbors’ house or the sofa in a lifestyle shot in our favorite magazine. Making it possible to translate that imagery to a product suggestion with a click is extremely powerful and more importantly, a stepping stone toward where retail is headed in the future."
Slyce's Mann agreed. "Visual search is where voice search was 10 years ago," he said. "It can be done, and now companies are trying to understand the user experience." If Slyce's deployments thus far ar any indication, users themselves understand visual search — the capability boasts a 20% month-to-month growth rate in user engagement, Mann said.
The partnership has benefits for both companies. Slyce's expertise means that Hayneedle does not have to develop visual search technology on its own, as Wayfair did. For Slyce, getting in the door at Hayneedle could have major implications for the company's future prospects at winning over other Walmart e-commerce properties, something Mann declined to speculate on.
Ultimately, it's a capability retailers will need in order to compete in an increasingly omnichannel universe, where shopping occurs not only in-store, online and in-app, but also wherever a consumer carries a smartphone and happens to see a product they want. "Retail commerce has been an extremely visual medium for more than a century," Paulson said. "The difference is that now most of us have smartphones in close proximity, whenever and wherever our day takes us. Visual search takes this now-ubiquitous technology and makes the entire world a show-room."