eBay debuts visual search for mobile app

    how retailers plan to use aiBI Intelligence

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    eBay launched two AI-powered visual search features last week, dubbed Find It On eBay and Image Search, Retail Divereports.

    The Find It On eBay feature allows customers to use images from social media sites to search. Users simply share images from the platform with the eBay app, which then generates product listings for items similar to those images.

    Image Search brings visual search to the real world, enabling customers to take pictures, or use existing ones, to find similar listings on eBay.

    eBay has been working extensively to improve its search functionality, and visual search capabilities will enhance the process greatly. Considering eBay has amassed more than one billion product listings, it’s critical for the app to seamlessly connect shoppers with desired products. The company has been standardizing the data used for product display and categorization to improve its product search. However, visual search enables shoppers to search for items based on images, entirely circumventing issues that can arise when using language to describe a product. This can create a superior online search experience, as it can more closely match products customers are searching for than the typical text-based search.

    Moreover, eBay could profit from being an early adopter by drawing customers away from other retailers not offering visual search. Retailers such as Neiman Marcus and Sephora have already benefited from offering visual search to their customers, but it’s still not widely adopted in retail — only 8% of retailers have already implemented the technology, and 68% reportedly have no plans to use it. As such, eBay may be able to use visual search to gain a leg up on its competition and continue to bolster its revenue growth.

    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 experiencesthat 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. 

    Stephanie Pandolph, research analyst for BI Intelligence, Business Insider’s premium research service, has written that:

    • 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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