Salesforce Brings Visual Search To Ecommerce Sites

Salesforce on Monday introduced a visual search feature and recommendations API through its ecommerce platform for retailers and brands that sell direct to consumers, as well as businesses that sell to other businesses.

Einstein Visual Search through Salesforce Commerce Cloud -- which runs sites like Adidas.com, as well as B2B sites -- allows consumers to upload a picture to the website and search for similar products. The visual search feature, which searches on attributes such as color and texture, adds to the company’s search offering for ecommerce sites.

“Rather than type in the words 'black jacket' into the Einstein search engine on an ecommerce site, I can now upload a photo and the search engine will return a variety of black jackets based on the photo,” said Salesforce Vice President of Product Marketing Gordon Evans.

Today the feature -- built into Commerce Cloud, Salesforce’s ecommerce platform -- runs on mobile websites, but the feature could end up as an API, which would allow brands and retailers to integrate it into their mobile app, similar to the API created for the recommendations feature also released today.

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Ecommerce companies can now add the Einstein Recommendations API to their mobile apps to support sales and customer service.

Visual search isn't new. Google and Microsoft offer the same capability to search across their respective engines. Google Lens allows people to upload a photo into the search engine to retrieve similar images. Microsoft Bing also offers a visual search API for Google Android and Apple iOS.

These days, marketers need to consider a variety of channels from ecommerce websites and apps, email, virtual assistants and Amazon’s marketplace. Business increasingly sell to other businesses on Amazon. Fifty percent of orders through Commerce Cloud are now done on mobile devices. About 26% of recommendations are done through artificial intelligence.

The list of features announced by Salesforce at the NRF 2019 show also includes a feature that checks inventory availability to ensure that ecommerce sites only show consumers the merchandise they have on hand. It also will check for nearby available inventory -- for example, if the consumer wants to buy a jacket or snow chains online and pick up the item in a nearby store. The feature, called Inventory Availability, keeps track of stock levels in real-time.

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