Target and Pinterest have forged a partnership to bring visual search capabilities to Target shoppers, according to a company blog post.
Target will initially incorporate the social media company's visual search technology, Pinterest Lens, to its registry experience, and eventually plans to add the capabilities to its app. This move is part of a larger deal that entails Target buying ads on Pinterest, and makes it the first US retailer to integrate Pinterest Lens.
Adoption of such technology may be crucial for retailers, as visual and voice searches could make up 50% of all searches by 2020, according to Target. Moreover, early adopters of visual search are already reaping benefits from it.
Sephora uses a visual search tool to match colors in pictures that customers upload to products in the same shade. The tool, called Color Match, has contributed to the company's success in e-commerce, helping it become one of the top online shoppingdestinations for beauty and health care products, behind only Amazon.
Meanwhile, Neiman Marcus saw improvements to its app engagement and usage after it deployed its own visual search tool, Snap.Find.Shop.
Building out the technological capabilities to do visual search can be an expensive and time-consuming endeavor, so partnering with Pinterest may be an efficient way to go. Creating a good visual search requires time-intensive machine training, and possibly overhauling outdated systems and hiring on expensive talent. Working with a visual search provider like Pinterest could significantly reduce associated costs, as well as the time it takes to make this technology available to customers.
Visual search may help Target boost online sales, especially in categories like clothing and home décor. For online shoppers, using written language to describe a product can be very limiting, and may not produce any useful results. Visual search removes the friction associated with text-based search, and can lead to increased customer engagement and higher average order values. As Target is one of the first-movers in this space, it appears well poised to see such benefits. In particular, it may see a boost in apparel and home décor, categories that are especially popular with consumers for visual search.
One of retailers' top priorities is to figure out how to gain an edge over Amazon. To do this, many retailers are attempting to differentiate themselves by creating highly curated experiences that combine the personal feel of in-store shopping with the convenience of online portals.
These personalized online experiences are powered by artificial intelligence (AI). This is the technology that enables e-commerce websites to recommend products uniquely suited to shoppers, and enables people to search for products using conversational language, or just images, as though they were interacting with a person.
Using AI to personalize the customer journey could be a huge value-add to retailers. Retailers that have implemented personalization strategies see sales gains of 6-10%, a rate two to three times faster than other retailers, according to a report by Boston Consulting Group (BCG). It could also boost profitability rates 59% in the wholesale and retail industries by 2035, according to Accenture.
Provides an overview of the numerous applications of AI in retail, using case studies of how retailers are currently gaining an advantage using this technology. These applications include personalizing online interfaces, tailoring product recommendations, increasing the relevance of shoppers search results, and providing immediate and useful customer service.
Examines the various challenges that retailers may face when looking to implementing AI, which typically stems from data storage systems being outdated and inflexible, as well as organizational barriers that prevent personalization strategies from being executed effectively.
Gives two different strategies that retailers can use to successfully implement AI, and discusses the advantages and disadvantages of each strategy.
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