The Definition of Camera Search

Camera search, more commonly known as visual search, is the technology that enables users to search a website with a photo instead of words. In eCommerce, shoppers can either upload an image from their gallery or use the camera app on their phone to find something that they want to buy.

When it comes to delivering exceptional online shopping experiences, camera search is a part of a range of visual AI-powered applications that enhance the end-to-end customer journey. Combining it with other tools such as recommendation carousels and smart merchandising ensures that, from search to purchase, shoppers uncover the right products that match their unique preferences.

What are Its Benefits for Retailers?

Done right, camera search can make the customer journey seamless. It connects shoppers to the most relevant products that they have in mind at the right time. The faster you match what shoppers expect to find on your site, the quicker you provide value, the higher chances that they’ll make a purchase.

  • It offers a frictionless product search and discovery experience. Not all shoppers know the right combination of keywords to type on the search bar that would yield the product search results they are looking for. Having a camera search on your site removes the friction of using words to find and discover products with images that already show the search engine the actual items shoppers want to buy.
  • It caters to inspiration-driven shopping. Consumers today, particularly the digital-savvy ones, find purchase inspiration everywhere—from the real-world to social media. Pinterest, Instagram, TikTok, and even YouTube are popular visual-based channels where shoppers get ideas for fashion and home décor. With a camera search engine, your shoppers can simply upload the screenshots they took from these social platforms and instantly find visually similar products on your site.
  • It provides a deeper understanding of customers. The performance of an on-site camera search engine can be easily tracked. From consumer trends to the products that shoppers are buying, you can have the insights to inform marketing campaigns, catalog management, and personalized shopping experiences.

What Makes Camera Search Successful and How Brands are Using It

For innovative brands and retailers, having a camera search feature on-site is simply a no-brainer. In fact, according to the National Research Group, visual search users are 50% more likely to be influenced to make purchase decisions. 

But to deliver results, there are key capabilities that it must have:

  • Multi-object detection so shoppers can easily search for multiple elements within an image, removing the step of manually cropping each object should they want to explore more.
  • Accurate category, brand, gender, and age detection to ensure that search results exactly match what shoppers are looking for.
  • Relevant vertical-specific lexicons that represent the minute details (and synonyms) of each item including color, texture, shape, style, material, occasion, and more.

Here are examples of brands using camera search.

A screenshot of H. Samuel’s camera search engine
Camera search on H. Samuel’s website

Jewelry shopping can a daunting experience with different diamond ring cuts, bracelet styles, necklace terminologies, and more. H. Samuel makes it easier for shoppers to explore their catalog with camera search, where they can upload an image inspiration or choose one from the brand’s inspirational gallery.

A screenshot of an eCommerce site's camera search tool
White Rose’s camera search tool

White Rose Fashion’s camera search allows users to shop multiple items within an image, making shopping for an outfit faster and easier. Users simply select each item of interest, and the feature delivers visually similar products that match the selection.

For a demonstration of how the technology works, watch how Coleman Furniture implements it on their website.

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