A snapshot of the future of shopping

Since the widespread adaption of smart phones consumers have
drastically changed the way they shop. No longer do we just run to a mall or
big box retailer and plunk down our hard earned cash. No we now run to the mall
or big box retailer to test out the item and then just buy it online. Why? More
often than not, customers can find it online cheaper, why pay more if you can just
buy it online for less? At first we were stuck just frantically punching in a
description in Google or Amazon to try and find the same item a pain in the
neck, time consuming and frequently ineffective. Enter the now widely available
barcode scanner option, virtually every retailer’s app now has one. Much more
effective and this in turn led to the cottage industry of retail arbitrage you
know the buy low at Walmart sell high on eBay for that must have holiday toy.
So what is the natural next step in this progression well that would be visual
search technology the ability to find an item with a picture. It’s been
available for a while now, Amazon offered one of the earliest versions but it
was far from perfect you would have to make sure it was perfectly clear and
well-lit and the image had to be the product in the original packaging. This
year Pinterest got into the action on visual search technology launching their
own search option called Lens. Same basic concept you just take a picture of an
item say clothing or a vase and the search displays similar items to the item
you just photographed on Pinterest. It’s not radically different from Amazons
own visual search but its accuracy can be quite astounding and its light years
ahead of the technology of just a few years past.

Retailers are now racing to adapt this new technology in
fact Target will soon be one of the first major brick and mortar retailers to
embrace it. Target will soon be integrating Pinterest’s search technology into
their own mobile app so when you snap a picture of an item in the Target app it
will compare it to Targets catalog of merchandise and find you a match or a
similar item that you can then purchase. Visual search technology will again
drastically change how consumers shop instead of hours spent in a mall or
online looking for that particular shoe you saw somewhere, snap a pic and find
it instantly. Soon a picture will save you a thousand words when trying to
track down that hard to locate item you so desperately want.


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