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The rise of visual search – make your website a destination for customers

Online search engines have undoubtably changed our lives. Can you remember a time before “you googled it” when you wanted to try and find some information about a product to locate where it is stocked or even purchase it? Imagery in the digital world is key and for retailers it helps communicate the depth and breadth of product offering and provides cognitive reassurance shortening the path from search to conversion. But did you know that there are even more benefits for retailers who improve their product imagery (number of angles, video, 360) enabling the customer to be more empowered when moving from image search to visual search?

How users search is constantly evolving. Customers no longer just rely on a text-based query into a website or app. There are other ways to find information, and two that have become mainstream in recent years are voice and visual search. Visual being a key lynchpin for retailers.

What does visual search really mean?

Visual search is when a shopper searches with a photo, screenshot, or other image instead of a text-based query. It works in one of two ways:

1. Image metadata – using image metadata like colours and shapes, is scanned to return similar and like images.

2. Reverse image retrieval – using image features and patterns, AI-based algorithms identify similar images based on the information.

Image search vs Visual search

There is a distinction between these two terms that is important to know.

  • Image search has been around for a long time. Image search uses keywords and URLs to fulfil the search query.

  • Visual search uses only images to find other images.

  • Images in both examples are critical to help a customer gain confidence, reassurance and understand the product they are looking for.

What is driving the growth of visual search?

The growth of image search and visual search has been phenomenal. It has become the go-to for anyone looking for quick, accurate, and visually stimulating search results. Here’s why:

- Smartphones with advanced cameras

This has been a game-changer. The rise of smartphones with high-resolution cameras and AI-powered software, allows devices to easily recognise and interpret images. All you have to do is take a picture, the phone does the rest.

- Improved machine learning algorithms

Machine learning algorithms can now recognise a wide range of objects, from simple shapes to complex patterns. Now visual search can now identify anything from a particular species of tree to a specific type of clothing.

- Increased Demand for Visual Content:

In a world that is becoming increasingly sensorial, it’s no surprise that people are searching for more visual content. Visual search has made it easier than ever to find the images and videos that people want, for whatever they want

- The growth of e-commerce:

E-commerce has exploded and is a standard part of many shopper's journey. Visual search has played a crucial role in this growth. With the ability to quickly and accurately search for products, consumers can find what they want, when they want it. How convenient.

- Growing adoption within industries

Visual search has been adopted by a wide range of industries, from retail to healthcare. It’s being used to identify everything from a medical condition to helping interior designers find inspiration for their projects. With such a diverse range of applications, it’s no wonder that visual search has become an integral part of our lives.

Why should you care?

Research shows that 62 per cent of millennials like the ability to search visually over any other new technology. According to Statista, the year-over-year market revenue of visual search has increased 29 per cent in the past six years. It’s a medium that tech-savvy marketers need to pay attention to. 

It’s time to improve your product image approach

Visual search is highly beneficial for e-commerce stores as users can quickly search for products and find precise retailers to purchase them online. It also makes it significantly easier for customers – convenience is king. If you make it easier and simpler for people to find what they are interested in, you’ll bring them a step closer to buying from you.  

  • Easier Product Discovery 

  • Shorter Journey from Search to Conversion 

  • Integrated Offline and Online Shopping Experience

  • Stronger Connection with New Customers

  • Sell to Customers Who Have Made their Decisions 

  • Higher Revenue 

90 per cent of the information our brain receives is visual. Sometimes, words don’t help us accurately describe what we see. This is why ensuring your products have the best visual images is an important investment.


Our sister company POP are experts in the image capture space. We have solutions for retailers of every shape and size to enhance their imagery through automated photography solutions. Whether you currently take the images yourself, get them from your suppliers or use a photographer, we have processes and solutions to increase the quality and quantity of images you need cost effectively. Want more information? Contact us at and we will send you more information on how to transform your approach to product imagery.


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