Visual Search – the unification of Omni-Channel Strategy and the Antidote to Show-rooming



     Over the past 20 years, we’ve seen people’s relationship with the term “search” transform from an intensely personal journey, into one of the most profitable businesses on earth. It’s the most common activity humanity performs. Whether online or in the real world, whether esoteric or routine in nature, we are all seeking answers.


     The rise of the smartphone has transformed the way we seek answers by placing the power of connected search in our pockets, available to us at the very moment we realize a desire to be better informed about anything, anywhere. It’s hard to believe we live in a time where it’s not an overstatement to say that the whole of human knowledge is organized, instantly accessible and portable.  


     Truly, the only thing that stands between you and your desired outcome is an ability to put into words what you see with your eyes. Until now.  


     People are visual beings. 90% of information transmitted to the brain is visual, and visuals are processed 60,000X faster in the brain than text (Hubspot). We are inspired to take action by the things that we see, and this is why recent advancements in the area of Visual Search are setting the stage for a major shift in how people interact with the world around them. By combining advanced image recognition technology with search algorithms, social network integrations, mobile specific technologies like NFC (Near Field Communication) and BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy), today’s Visual Search companies allow users to perform highly intuitive queries based solely on what they see (online and in the world around them).  

     Imagine being able to snap a photograph of the Statue of Liberty to receive detailed information about history, tours, pricing, nearby restaurants or even which of your Facebook friends might be nearby – no problem. How about taking a picture of a baseball diamond in Houston to receive local results about Little League registration for your kids? You can do that. Access to information is no longer based on an ability to translate into words what you see with your eyes, and that changes everything. By blending offline interaction with online applications, the way people see and interact with objects is changing on a daily basis.

So, how will Visual Search impact retail?

     As is often the case with major technological innovations, the Retail Industry will see the highest level of disruption from consumer adoption of Visual Search. Pressing the issue is the fact that Visual Search technology is entering viability at a critical time for an industry undergoing a tremendous amount of upheaval.  Retailers are simultaneously seeking to develop or overhaul Omni-Channel strategy, Mobile Commerce functionality and addressing the granddaddy of all retail threats, Show-rooming. While there is no one solution that will solve all of the challenges being faced by today’s enterprises, Visual Search technology may present an opportunity to unify the disparate components of retailer operations, and provide the modern consumer with the incredible shopping experience they’re seeking.  


     Later this year and in early 2014, several leading retailers will launch new mobile applications built around Visual Search functionality. Featuring the retailer’s product catalogue as the sole context for results, shoppers will be able to perform incredible visual search actions in any environment. A few examples of how these integrations will work:


  • A major fashion retailer’s mobile app will allow their shoppers to snap a picture of a stranger’s outfit on the street and receive matching results from the current catalogue. The shopper can than make the purchase and have the outfit Shipped-to-Store for pickup or directly to any home address– all while in app.

  • Another retailer will utilize Visual Search as an in-store checkout portal, allowing their shoppers to snap photographs of the products they’re purchasing. Instead of standing in line at the checkout, the shopper simply walks out of the store and is billed through the app as they leave.  

  • Contextualized search is a focal point for another retailer’s app, allowing their customers to photograph home improvement scenarios (a broken window, a hole in their wall) and receive how-to videos, necessary product information and an in-store mapping tool. 


     These are the type of cutting-edge concepts being developed by Visual Commerce firm, Slyce Inc. Utilizing state-of-the-art Visual Search technology and processes, Slyce is working with major retailers, brands, e-commerce providers and several key strategic partners to provide a technology solution that is unifying Omni-Channel Strategy, and a truly viable antidote to Show-rooming.  

     For retailers, Visual Search accomplishes a previously unattainable milestone – facilitating a transaction at the Point-of-Consumer-Inspiration. The possibilities for customized use-cases are limitless, and retailers themselves will define the most effective applications in the months to come.

     Everyday, we move through a series of scenarios that define each moment of our lives. Leveraging the potential of mobile technologies, Visual Search unifies the components of a moment, and translates them into an intuitive, highly contextualized search outcome. Ultimately, the act of search remains an intensely personal journey, and Visual Search delivers an experience as unique as the users themselves.


erika-racicot-slyceErika Racicot


Erika is CoFounder and Chief Operations Officer of Slyce, a visual commerce platform that leverages sophisticated image recognition technology & processes to deliver an incredible consumer experience. The technology can be applied to any connected device, and allows users to instantly identify, shop and ultimately purchase the products in any image uploaded to the platform. Erika is also a Co-founder of Business Instincts Group a company that focuses on venture creation with active projects across a wide spectrum of technologies.