I recently learned that Facebook acquired Grokstyle, a visual search startup company. This technology lets people use a smartphone camera to search for furniture without knowing anything about the product’s brand or model. It takes the visual data from the smartphone camera and pulls up matching products.
The startup combined AI and visual search technology to streamline the process that consumers use to find items they like. Buyers could use this platform as a starting point for their research process. Since they’re already interested and engaged with those items, they are closer to making a purchase decision.
Grokstyle reports that they saw positive results after partnering with major retailers. Those clients attributed revenue lift due to the platform, and the user experience was also elevated.
This technology was developed by Kavita Bala and Sean Bell. Both of them have extensive computer science backgrounds. The tie-in with augmented reality is obvious, and it’s a way to provide brick and mortar customers with the convenience that they desire.
It works by using AI to look through potential matches to the product and choose the ones most likely to be correct. It can ensure that those models are in-stock before presenting the consumer with these options.
I’m excited about the possibilities that Grokstyle brings to Facebook. The social network giant already has a lot going on with AI and AR products, so this acquisition is a natural extension of these efforts.
The Potential of Visual Search Technology
Visual search technology is appealing to Millennials and Generation Z, with 62 percent wishing they could effectively look up products via photos. I believe that investment in visual search is going to be critical for retailers and ecommerce sites.
Seamless User Experience
Every company wants to remove as many barriers as possible standing between a buyer and the purchase decision. When the customer can reliably look up product information based off of a picture, rather than trying to remember the model name, it’s a lot easier to move them down the sales funnel.
Combining Text with Visual Search
Text search can complement visual search, so companies don’t need to choose one or the other. The text can provide context clues to narrow down the potential products or present options that best match what the consumer is looking for.
Many companies rely on chatbots to provide basic customer support day and night. When visual search is built into these bots, they can help customers find the perfect product and guide them through the checkout process. Companies get to lessen the load on customer support agents, as basic inquiries can be completely covered.
Integrated Image Search
Another way retailers and ecommerce sites can leverage visual search is to integrate it with their standard site search. Anything that keeps buyers on the page is a great move, so they aren’t tempted by the competition. They receive a curated selection of items that match what they’re looking for, and the business gets them to spend more time on the page.
Facebook’s acquisition of Grokstyle is the latest step towards visual search becoming a commonplace technology. Since this company is already working on many AI and AR projects, it’s likely to be integrated in a way that gets it in front of a lot of people.