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The Rise of Visual Search in the Digital World

Trends and Future of Retail
Visual Search and AI
Georgia SmithGeorgia Smith | February 7, 2021

The rise of visual search is visible today. Especially in the retail industry. Besides, visual search is one of the main digital trends through the years.

With that, several search engines introduced their image search tool. But, how did this begin?

Visual Search Then

In 2000, many people want to know the dress Jennifer Lopez wore on the Grammys. This lead to the creation of a famous image search tool.

Since then, visual search is continually improving. In 2009, they enabled finding suggested images.

But, things were still lacking. Yet in 2011, the real evolution of visual search began. How does it work?

People can now upload an image instead of typing words. Then, the search engine will show a list of similar images. 

And not only that. It also has webpages with that specific item.

Since then, different companies and brands have adopted visual search. So now, images drive major traffic to online stores.

Read on to learn more about the rise of visual search.

Visual Search Now

Visual search is such a great alternative to typing when you search for something. Why is that so?

We can simply use images we have in our gallery. Or a screenshot from a social media app. We can even point the camera to something we want to find.

And voila! Visual search shows you more information or similar images of it. It’s just that simple, yet amazing.

Visual search also uses more technologies. One of them is Artificial Intelligence. So, how does this work?

AI helps find results accurately. So, you can find the closest and most similar to the image you uploaded.

For years, online brands find this feature effective to improve their business. They say that it helps them give more quality results.

With that, customers are enjoying the journey. So, brands can give the best experience from searching until buying.

Besides, reports show that 62% of Millennial customers want visual search. They want this more than any technology.

So, it’s not a surprise that marketers invest in this technology. Many companies also start to apply this.

Now, what are these companies and brands? Let’s find out.

Visual Search Leaders

In this article, we will consider the examples of the following brands:

  • Marks & Spencer
  • Farfetch

Marks & Spencer

In 2019, M&S introduced the Style Finder tool on its website. So, how does this visual search tool work?

It allows shoppers to search for items using an image. They can simply upload a photo or take a new one of any outfit. Then, shoppers can see a range of products that looks similar to the uploaded one. 

With the help of AI, customers can instantly find what they’re looking for. No need to manually type the words!


To be unique from its competitors, Farfetch also offers a visual search tool. Now, how does this work?

Customers can simply upload an image of an item using the app. It can be a photo from a friend. Or a screenshot of a celebrity.

Then, the AI engine will detect the color, style, and fabric of the item. So, Farfetch shows similar items to easily browse on them.

Georgia Smith

Georgia Smith

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