Aug 11, 2017
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Coveting that canvas bag? Asos’ visual search tool will now find it for you

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Why it matters to you

Don't want to scroll through an inventory list of 85,000 items? Just upload a photo to find your desired piece of clothing instead at Asos.

Visual search is nothing new these days, but its application in the fashion industry may be one of its most useful manifestations. And jumping on the bandwagon is British ecommerce giant Asos, which has rolled out a new visual search tool that allows you to find your latest statement piece by using your smartphone camera. After all, if imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then taking a photo of your friend’s shoes and then uploading it to Asos’ app and buying a pair for yourself is paying your friend a serious compliment.

Perhaps the most impressive thing about this new visual search tool is the sheer amount of inventory it is able to comb through in order to find you a matching handbag, blouse, or pair of pants. Given that Asos has around 85,000 products on its online store, and adds about 5,000 new products every week, it certainly comes as a relief that you can now find what you’re looking for simply by snapping a photo — either in the wild or via a screenshot online — and uploading it through the app.

Previously, in order to find an article of clothing or accessory on the site, users had to scroll through thousands of products, searching either by category or keyword. But now, the company has updated its iOS app to make it possible for you to perform an image-based search for similar items.

Asos didn’t actually develop the technology for this tool itself, but instead relied on a third-party provider. But regardless of who built it, Asos hopes that its customers will use it. After all, the company noted, the visual search function becomes increasingly robust as it learns users’ tastes.

Ultimately, Asos says, the addition of such a tool is all about discovery.

“If you know what you want, you can quite simply get to what you’re looking for. But what we’re trying to find is more of that discovery use case – if you’re not quite sure what you want, or you’ve seen something that’s inspired you, visual search is designed to kickstart that discovery,” Richard Jones, head of product at Asos, told Forbes. “It’s about getting as close as possible to giving you something that is visually similar.”

The visual search function is now available for iOS users in the U.K., and an international and Android launch is expected soon.

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