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eBay has announced the addition of a new feature to its mobile app that enables customers to browse products based on a combination of visual and text-based characteristics. As customers are browsing eBay’s catalog, they can tap on three dots in the top right corner of the listing to bring up options related to the item, including brand and color filters, for example, as well as an option called “Looks like this.” If the user selects this, eBay uses computer vision to find products similar to the selected listing.
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Here’s what it means: eBay can now bolster its shopping experience by enabling mobile shoppers to intuitively filter their searches based on the features they would use to browse a physical store.
eBay has a wide-ranging catalog that can benefit from intuitive search features. Because the e-tailer relies entirely on third-party sellers to flesh out its product assortment, it has a very wide selection that could overwhelm customers. However, by letting users quickly filter the listings based on the characteristics of products that are close to, but not exactly what they’re looking for, these options can be pared down to only the most relevant.
The bigger picture: The growth of visual search is providing consumers with more opportunities to shop online with greater product discovery ability than they otherwise could by just using search terms.
Visual search has become a burgeoning area of innovation among retailers, especially in highly visual product categories.
- Amazon has been testing a tool that allows customers to browse using exclusively visual features. “Scout,” as the feature is called, presents the user with groups of product pictures, each of which has a like and dislike button beneath it. Liking a product causes new options that are similar in appearance to replace ones that look different, while disliking a listing causes that item and ones like it to be replaced with new options. Currently only available in visual categories like furniture and home décor, Scout benefits both the customer and Amazon. Customers gain a new way to browse that helps them quickly arrive at more relevant product listings. Meanwhile, Amazon gets data on consumer preferences that customers give away freely.
- Forever 21 introduced a feature that shoppers can use to narrow product searches based on visual filters. Dubbed “Discover Your Style,” it presents users with categories of filters like length and neckline, which are presented as small demonstrative icons instead of text. The retailer’s early tests indicated that customers found Discover Your Style useful: During the first month of the feature’s pilot, Forever 21 saw a boost in sales conversions and a 20% jump in average purchase value in the product categories it was tested in (dresses and tops).
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