Hot on the heels of Become launching its color search offering, Smarter today launched Visual Search Beta. Right now I’m just going to discuss the basics. I might follow up on the technology behind the offering at a later date.
Visual search can be found by clicking on the Clothing & Accessories tab or by searching for any product within that section. Right now Visual Search Beta is a bit hidden as the consumer has to click on a small link under the header.
When Paul Willmes of Smarter walked me through Visual Search, I was happy to find that Smarter took a different approach than ShopWiki and Become. This feature is all about clothing. Users select gender, then a top (shirt, sweater, etc.) and bottom (pants, shorts, etc.), then choose the color for each.
Smarter Visual Search then returns two bands of products (the top on top, the bottom on bottom) so users can see what the products might look like together. The searcher can easily scroll through the listings to see more choices.
This is a good start for Smarter, but to make the feature truly useful for consumers, Smarter needs to add the ability to view selected products together…click on a top and a bottom and then view the 2 products together in a separate window without store, pricing, and descriptive information in the way.
But that’s just the first piece of the puzzle as a user can’t easily buy the two products together. Even if the products are sold by the same merchant, a user has to click through, put the first product in a cart, then toggle back to Smarter, repeat the process, then close 3 browser windows. Not the smoothest operation. Without a universal shopping cart feature (which I’m not at all recommending Smarter.com tackle), things get ugly pretty quickly.
At the end of the day, I think consumers will welcome Smarter’s Visual Search tool. It’s how people shop for clothing. Eventually, Smarter’s tool should extend to shoes, hats, handbags, and other accessories.
As for merchants in the Clothing & Accessories category, I think the tool will drive more clicks. And conversion? I’m not sure what happens. Part of me thinks that conversion goes up because searchers will better understand what the potential ensemble looks like and therefore be more apt to buy…however this feature could also just lead to more browsing and less buying.
Would love to hear from some clothing retailers on this one…
Become Adds Search By Color – October 19, 2006
A Different Way To Shop – September 8, 2006
Riya (launching soon) – September 7, 2006
Kaboodle Collage – August 29, 2006
ShopWiki Shop By Color – June 14, 2006