Have You Tried Visual Search? Why Target is Betting On It

Target shopping cart

By Tricia McKinnon

It looks like the future of search is visual.  According to an eMarketer report, the majority of US internet users (52.3%) would like to see related products after using a retailer’s mobile app to take a picture of an item.

Betting on the future of this technology, Pinterest launched Pinterest Lens in 2017. It uses artificial intelligence to show similar products after a user has taken a photo of an object.  Ben Silbermann, CEO of Pinterest said: “I really believe that the camera will be the next keyboard.  It will be a fundamental tool you use to query the world around you, discover things around you, or visualize how something might fit into your life”. Since launching Pinterest Lens in 2017, there are more than 600 million monthly visual searches.  While the technology is still relatively new the goal is for users to be able to take a photo of an item, receive related about the item including which retailers sell it, the price and suggestions for related items.

Recognizing the potential of this technology Target became the first retailer to incorporate Pinterest’s Lens technology into its own mobile shopping app.  Initially launched for products within Target’s registry, customers can take a picture of a crib and receive recommendations for similar products that customers can purchase at Target.  Target plans to expand the functionality to its entire product catalogue.  The hope is for customers, while conducting their day-to-day activities, even when they are not shopping, to see an item they like, take a picture of it using Target’s app and then they can find similar items to purchase at Target.

This type of technology will likely have the best reach within fashion, home décor and beauty retailers. 


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Tricia McKinnonTrends