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Shoppers Need Visuals

Jan 1, 2008

"People don't shop by reading text, they shop by visuals, like color and style," said Joe Chung, CEO and co founder of Allurent Inc., a web technology firm. He urges online retailers to take a cue from service oriented stores in which a salesperson shows a shopper looking for a blouse, a selection in different colors and patterns.

Searching by visuals is available on shopping comparison site,, where shoppers can search for a red dress, and see results of red dresses from multiple retailers. They can view images of products and search for similar items.

The site search engine from Endeca Technologies Inc. supports image based searches for retail sites, including's There, shoppers can mouse over a color chart and click a color to search for artwork containing the chosen hue.

Allurent is developing a site search platform that will let retailers display images tied to their product databases, Chung said. Shoppers will be able to use the site search function to click a product image. For example, to search for a list of pertinent products. Allurent expects to begin licensing the new technology next year directly to retailers, as well as to other technology vendors.

Sucharita Mulpuru, principal analyst for retail at research and advisory firm, Forrester Research Inc., says visual search is largely untested but could be particularly useful for some retail categories. "It's unproven territory, but for aesthetic purchases it could be very helpful," she said. "I like the prospects for categories like apparel, footwear and even home products."

Many other online retailers have begun deploying search and navigation applications designed to improve the shopping experience by providing useful navigation through search results. But these applications typically rely on starting out with keyword searches.

Allurent's visual search platform will be flexible to suit the search strategies of different retailers or product categories, according to Chung. "Different categories will determine what the right search paradigm will be," he said. As an example, he said an apparel retailer that wants to merchandise its products around the movie interests of shoppers might let shoppers click on an image of Brad Pitt in Ocean's 13, to search for the shirt and necktie he wore. "We're combining search and navigation into one entity," Chung explained. This article was edited from a story on

Topic: Wholesale News

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Article ID: 490

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