Why Search Clothes by Image is the Future

Jess Erdman

Jess Erdman, February 2021

According to Statista, search and navigation is the most important attribute of the online shopping experience for US shoppers. An easy or difficult to navigate search experience can be the difference between a customer completing a purchase or abandoning their shopping cart. As retailers begin to understand the importance of nailing down the search experience, alternatives to the typical text-based search are appearing. 



Text-based search makes it difficult for customers to successfully find what they’re looking for. That’s where the ability to search clothes by image comes in. Searching clothes by image gives customers the opportunity to bridge the gap between what's in their minds and the actual search terms they're able to use.



Many retailers such as Fashion Nova are implementing visual search tools, which allow customers to upload an image of the perfect product. The technology then identifies product attributes in the image (such as dress length or type) and returns (hopefully) similar results.



YesPlz’s Visual Search goes above and beyond other visual search tools such as Fashion Nova, as the artificial intelligence technology behind the search can identify extremely specific product features, such as pleating. We’ll explain more about YesPlz’s unique visual search below.



If you’re looking to implement a solution that utilizes search by image and artificial intelligence for your fashion eCommerce, contact us today to chat about YesPlz AI solutions.



Below, we’ll dive into even more reasons why search by clothes (and not text-based search) is the future. 



1. Fashion taxonomies are only becoming more and more confusing for both retailers and customer.


Finding the perfect off-the-shoulder top is never an easy feat. Customers will likely log onto their preferred fashion retailer to type in the keywords that they think are most relevant--but it’s unlikely that they’ll receive relevant results. Why? Because certain retailers have different names for different styles, so an “off-the-shoulder” top could actually be called a “cold-shoulder” top at a different retailer. It’s frustrating for both customers and retailers struggling to keep up with these changing fashion taxonomies.



“In fashion, there are so many ways of describing the same thing, which is quite nuanced and is quite internal to the industry, but can be a problem for our customers,” Natalie Verma, Head of Inspiration at FarFetch



Fashion taxonomies can result in an underwhelming search experience, but allowing customers to find clothes by picture can be a solution to the never-ending search terms. Let’s be honest: there are certain search requirements that can’t be put into text-based search. Just like describing a painting using words will only take you to a certain point of descriptiveness, the same applies to customers searching for the perfect item of clothing.



Tools that allow customers to search clothes by image solves the problem of confusing taxonomies by never asking customers to guess the keyword attributes of products.



2. Search clothes by image gives brands an advantage over competitors.



In the cut-throat eCommerce industry, every online retailer wants to stand out from competitors. Search clothes by image makes the shopping experience memorable for customers, making them want to return and make repeat purchases. It also makes the search experience seamless, as customers are able to dictate their search needs without having to re-start their search journey repeatedly. All in all, this means increased brand loyalty for retailers that are willing to utilize tools that allow customers to search clothes by image.



3. Tools that allow customers to search clothes by image create an “in-store” experience, online.



Customers often engage in the “in-store” experience because of the sensory touchpoints throughout the store. When purchasing a product from a clothing store, in-person, it’s likely that customers will touch many different shirts throughout the consideration process. They’ll also consider other aspects, such as the color, material, and fit of the clothing. Customers may hold the product up to other products to examine how to style them. Online shoppers often lament that they miss the consideration process that happens in-store.



With search by image, the search experience becomes that much more dynamic, allowing customers to experience the products that they’re considering.



Finding the Perfect Dress with Fashion Nova



Imagine you're looking for the perfect dress for a party. The image of the dress in your mind might include a certain fit on your body or a certain neck-line. Unfortunately, text-based search falls short in delivering on the perfect dress that you had in your mind.



The next step in searching for your perfect dress is to type in your search terms. But, you'll need to be careful--if you type in too many attributes, it's unlikely that the search engine will be able to find a match, and you'll receive no results. Or, the alternative, is to keep your search general--but that requires work on your end, to sift through thousands of search results that are likely irrelevant to the idea you had in your mind.



Retailers are beginning to use search by image tools to solve the problems caused by text-based search. In fact, some of the best-known retailers are utilizing search by image tools.



Take FashionNova for example. Any customer can upload a picture of an item of clothing, and their search engine can find similar items to the attributes included in the picture. In the example below, the color, length, fit, and cut of the dress are all attributes that are matched to the uploaded picture. 



Now, imagine the difficulty a customer may have, trying to describe the red dress below using text-search. 



However, there’s still something missing in the search results....



Finding the Perfect Dress with the YesPlz Style Filter



The YesPlz Style Filter goes a step beyond typical “search clothes by image” tools. If you look closely at the FashionNova search above, you’ll see that the dress is red, short in length, and pleated. 





Using YesPlz’s Style Filter, the customer can select these specific attributes, and get an even closer match to the product she’s looking for. While uploading a picture is a step in the right direction of improving search, there are still many errors that can occur--perhaps it’s difficult for the search filter to identify specific attributes. 



With the YesPlz Style Filter, customers can always be assured that the search results will match their intent--because they can select these attributes on a visual model.



Regardless of the medium, search clothes by image is here to stay. If you’d like to learn more about YesPlz’s Style Filter, try it out here.



If you’re looking to implement a solution that utilizes search by image and artificial intelligence for your fashion eCommerce, contact us today to chat about YesPlz AI solutions.

by Jess Erdman Jess Erdman
Content Marketing Lead

I'm passionate about creating cool content. The best part? I get to learn new things about fashion tech and ecommerce everyday. Have an idea or opinion about this article? Reach out at jess@yesplz.ai

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