The way we shop and how we interact with products has gone through a paradigm shift recently. Technology is facilitating the changes taking place in commerce on a daily basis, resulting in unlimited product touch points. Today, we want to highlight the way image recognition software is revolutionizing the discovery and purchase process.
Businesses can reach consumers through infinite channels now. They cannot just wait for people to show up at their store to make a sale. This is exciting, yet challenging at the same time.
What is image recognition software? At the basic level, say you provide it with an image of a piece of clothing. Then the software uses a series of algorithms to find matches along the parameters of shape, color, pattern, etc, and generates a list of results. It is the kind of software that has been used in high tech security systems for a long time, but it is finding a whole new set of applications in the changing world of commerce.
SnapTell has been playing in this arena for a while. It is an iPhone app that lets you “snap” a photo of a product, and then “tells” you more about its rating, pricing, etc. The technology is getting more and more advanced and allowing users to do more things.
ASAP54 is another example of a company using image recognition technology. If you like something that your friend is wearing, the ASAP54 app lets you upload an image, and then generates a list of results with similar and related products. You can then buy the product directly by clicking through to the particular store’s website. A learning algorithm gives better results every time. They even have the option of having a human expert intervene in case you are not happy with the results.
UK-based Snap Fashion and Ireland-based Style-Eyes offer a similar service with their image recognition software apps. Each app provides their own distinguishing perks and features like social sharing, expert advice, etc.
The world is an oyster when it comes to the possibilities this technology offers. Lord and Taylor is using it to let people buy products from their print ads. Very often, we see something we like in a print ad, make a mental note, but forget to complete the purchase. That’s exactly what Lord and Taylor is trying to avoid. With their new app, consumers can scan the product in an ad, and instantly buy it from the website.
And then there are companies like Finland-based Kiosked that are monetizing images. They are working on the principle of pervasive commerce, and that “anything you see can be yours”. Whether you are a brand, publisher, or developer, they have a solution for you. Their technology can be used to convert any image or video on the Internet into a product offer. So whether a shopper is reading an online newspaper, blog, or watching a video, every image they see can be made into a transaction opportunity.
The same is true of touchable video. Companies like Cinematique let consumers tap on objects that they like in a video and save it to be bought later. Nowness, a high-end fashion, art, travel, and gastronomy publisher is using touchable video in fun and creative ways.
This is an exciting world that we live in. Combined with the evolution of personalization software, this technology will completely revolutionize the way we shop. The only limiting aspect right now when it comes to these apps, is scale. Most of them are limited by the products that they carry in their own databases. What they need is access to infinite product information in the cloud. Then they would be able to provide their services at scale and seamlessly usher in a product-aware world, where every interaction with a consumer is an opportunity to inform, educate, and sell products.