eCommerce Brands Use Visual Search to Improve Product Discovery—Here’s How

Find out how to boost your products' chances of discovery through visual search.

Jameela Ghann - Writer for Fast Simon
By Jameela Ghann
Michelle Meyer - Editor for Fast Simon
Edited by Michelle Meyer
Oli Kashti - Writer and Fact-Checker for Fast Simon
Fact-check by Oli Kashti

Updated February 26, 2024.

A person holding a cell phone in their hand while shopping online

While shopping in a physical retail store, customers decide to buy a product after touching it, taking a sample, trying it on, or testing it out. But when it comes to retail vs. eCommerce, you need to up your game to mimic the physical shopping experience. This is where visual search comes in.

Explore below how you can use visual search to improve product discovery and improve your customers' experience on your store.

Meet the Expert

Jameela Ghann is an e-commerce and marketing expert with more than 10 years of experience. Apart from running her own successful online store, Alora Boutique, she's the marketing manager of

Visual search is a cutting-edge technology that enables users to search for products using images instead of traditional text-based queries.

For example, rather than typing in keywords like "emerald cut sapphire with small diamonds at the side," users can simply upload a photo of the desired product. The magic happens when the computer leverages advanced algorithms to match the image with similar products.

Popular visual search applications include Google Lens, Pinterest's visual shopping feature, and IKEA's augmented reality app.

Comparison table listing the pros and cons of visual search

Visual search eliminates the need for precise text descriptions, allowing users to find products effortlessly. Your customers can also explore unique styles and design combinations they might not have considered otherwise, especially if you have a "Complete the Look" feature. Plus, users tend to engage more with photos and videos, leading to higher conversion rates and longer time on the page.

However, as visual search technology is still in its early stages, it might not always deliver accurate results for specific products. Also, users may unknowingly upload sensitive data in images, raising privacy concerns that you need to handle responsibly.

Among various industries and product categories, fashion stands out as the most successful area for visual search. Fashion enthusiasts often want to replicate looks they discover on social media—and visual search bridges the gap between inspiration and product availability.

From clothing to makeup, fashion brands have witnessed remarkable results with this technology, enabling customers to find and buy products they spot on influencers' feeds or social media.

For example, Fashion Nova incorporates visual search into their normal search bar via a camera icon. The customer has the choice to upload their own photos or to test the feature if they're unsure.

Visual search helps to make your products more discoverable because your shoppers' journeys are personalized and direct. Customers are immediately taken to their desired products with the added bonus of upselling and cross-selling opportunities.

» Have your own fashion store? Discover how to overcome different fashion eCommerce challenges

How to Improve Your Visual Search Functionality

If you want to enhance the visual search functionality on your eCommerce store, here are some essential tips:

  • High-quality images: Ensure you have high-quality images to facilitate accurate recognition by the algorithm.
  • Different angles: Provide multiple images of each product to accommodate various user-uploaded angles and improve matching accuracy.
  • Learn from leading brands: Observe how successful brands like IKEA or Pinterest implement visual search and consider similar functionalities for your store.
  • Incorporate AI: AI plays a pivotal role, especially once you start to scale, because it can handle large data sets efficiently. This includes learning from users and managing extensive image databases.
  • Integrate other technologies: Consider pairing your visual search functionality with augmented reality (AR) and voice commerce. AR allows users to virtually try on products while voice commerce enhances user intent understanding and matches long-tail keyword searches with relevant images.

Measuring the Effectiveness of Visual Search Campaigns

You can use the following metrics to gauge how successful your visual search campaigns are:

  • Conversion rate: Measure the percentage of users who made a purchase after using visual search.
  • Time spent on page: Analyze the time users spend exploring visual search results and products.
  • Click-through rate (CTR): Track the number of users who click on visual search results and proceed to view products.
  • User surveys: Conduct surveys to gauge customer satisfaction and gather feedback for further improvements.

Visual search is changing eCommerce and redefining how users interact with products and discover new items effortlessly. Although it's still evolving, the potential benefits are undeniable.

As eCommerce merchants, embracing visual search and combining it with AI and other cutting-edge technologies can open doors to exciting possibilities, enhancing customer experiences and driving business growth.

» Discover other ways of enhancing product discoverability with this ultimate site search guide