Consumers demand image-based search functionalities

10th Sep 2013

Google may have revolutionised the way we search but consumers are now demanding image-based search functionalities when shopping online, rather than text-based keyword queries.

That’s according to new research from WeSee, which revealed that a staggering three quarters of consumers (74%) said that traditional text-based keyword queries are inefficient in helping them find the right items online.

Additionally, 15% of these shoppers claimed that they regular encounter probems when using keyword searches on retailers’ websites.

So, considering the overwhelming majority of consumers (73%) purchases products and services online using search engines, how would they prefer to shop online?

The survey of 1,000 consumers showed that 40% would like their online shopping experience to be more visual, image-based and intuitive. According to the figures, one in four said that they like retailers to suggest items suggested based on what they’ve recently viewed, 16% said they’d like product recommendations based on images they’ve shared, liked or uploaded and 12% would like to be able to buy items that they see on social networks without navigating away from the page.

Unsurprisingly, it’s the younger generation – those aged 18-34 – that are calling for more image-based search functionalities. According to the survey, 40% this group claimed they have used their mobile device to take a picture of a specific item on the high street to buy once they get home, whereas only 30% take pictures to inspire shopping at a later date.

And, as a result, this demographic is requesting more visual-based shopping technologies – 45% would like to be able to take a picture of an item with their mobile and be linked directly to the purchasing page; 32% would like to be able to upload a picture and be shown similar items; and 33 would like to be able to know where to buy high street versions of celeb outfits seen in images online.

Social is also influencing how consumers search for products and services online and consumers are increasingly keen to see a link between social networks and ecommerce. The findings showed that 37% would like social networks to link directly from images to online retail sites.  

However, the majority of consumers warned they would not want social networks to become pure ecommerce sites, revealing that brands and social networks must find a balanced approach to social shopping. 

Adrian Moxley, CMO and co-founder of WeSEE said: “It can be difficult to find a particular style or discover a new brand with a keyword – either shoppers are purposely looking for something new or it’s hard to articulate a personal style with a couple of words. Retailers must move outside of purely text-based descriptions of items to help shoppers find what they’re looking for.

“Younger generations of shoppers are much more visual in the way they use the web and are very mobilised particularly when it comes to shopping and sharing purchase ideas with friends. There are countless ways in which visual technology can be integrated into the purchase journey, for instance ‘drag, drop and shop’ and the incorporation of digital imagery into the purchase journey creates a sophisticated, multi-layered visual, social shopping experience.”


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