TheFind introduces visual search
TheFind first demonstrated its teams were working on visual search back in 2009; but this experimentation never made it into its live product… until now. Announced on TheFind blog this week:
Starting today, when you shop for clothing, shoes, accessories and most home goods, you’ll have the ability to shop for visually similar items. Take a look at this generic search for “gladiator sandals” on TheFind. When you mouse over an item you have two options: “Preview” or “Similar”. Preview will show you details about the product, while Similar will take you to a page full of visually similar items.
- Selected product on the left side.
- Heavy focus on images, of course (even if I find those images a bit too small – surely a threshold to adjust between image size and number of results per page)
- The results can be adjusted using a slider to choose if visual search should favor the shape or the color of similar items, and another slider for price.
- Rolling over a result shows the price and seller for the product ; clicking on it reloads the page and considers the selected product as the new reference to find visually similar items (To increase consistency with the rest of the site, it could have been interesting to add the “preview” option when rolling over a result, in order to get more details).
In terms of quality of results, I believe it really depends on the query and the kind of products – I had very good results and some weak ones. Visual search is still in beta, and we can expect the quality to improve in the coming months (i.e: it could be interesting to combine visual search with other search criteria like categories or brands).
Back on the search result pages, it is to be noticed that the “similar” button doesn’t appear yet on all offers, even within offers from the same category. This is a bit disturbing and frustrating, but hopefully we can expect some improvements in the near future.
To be noted that when displaying the full details of an offer, a small panel showing some visual search results is displayed outside the main window. A bit odd, but it does the job of “advertising” the new feature.
Another small change in the search result page: for offers supporting the “compare prices” feature, the “similar” button is replaced by a “compare” button…
Some thoughts to conclude:
- Visual search is a really great addition to the list of search features available on TheFind. Considering the focus of the company on its mobile products, we can expect this feature to be rolled out on the mobile apps in the near future.
- TheFind has surely the biggest shopping index these days, and I can imagine the size of this index causes some engineering challenges… However, as a customer, I would like some features to be “finished”. For instance, the “compare prices” feature introduced in Nov’09 is still available on a subset of the index ; the “visual search” feature doesn’t cover all offers within a single category yet ; the new user interface suggests the “compare prices” and “visual search” cannot be available at the same time for a same offer… Ideally, “visual search” and “compare prices” could co-exist in some categories and should be available for all offers within a given category.