In e-commerce, every second counts. Online customers aren’t patient. If it takes more than 10 seconds to find what he’s searching for, chances are he’ll click out. Oftentimes, it’s not your fault.
You might have the item in stock but the shopper just can’t remember what the product is called or looks like. With voice and image search, this situation can be avoided.
If your e-commerce website has voice search capabilities, the shopper can just click the microphone icon and give a verbal description of the item he’s looking for. Similarly, if your e-commerce website has an image search function, all the shopper has to do is to upload a picture of the item or the URL that has its image.
Voice and image search technology are innovations that are a win-win solution for the customer and the e-commerce business.
If your e-commerce website isn’t equipped with voice and image search features, this article is for you. Installing voice or image software – or both – in your e-commerce website and optimizing them for search might be the solution that gets your checkout counter buzzing.
What Is Voice Search And How Does It Work?
“Hi, Siri. What’s the closest route to the airport?”
If you’re familiar with Siri, Apple’s virtual assistant, then you already have experience using voice search.
Voice search is a technology that uses AI voice recognition software to analyze and understand the words, phrases, and phonemes used by a person to launch a search query.
Think of voice search as technology that merges the language of computer programming and human linguistics.
Here are key statistics that show the world has embraced voice search:
- According to Google, 27% of the global population uses voice search.
- 58.6% of American consumers use voice search.
People love to use voice search not only because it is convenient. Voice search also delivers search results faster than text search – 4.6 seconds or 52% faster according to research conducted by Backlinko.
What Is Image Search And How Does It Work?
Image search is a technology whereby the search engine analyzes the key distinguishing qualities of the image such as lines, colors, shapes, and textures.
Once the analysis is completed, the search engine will scour through its mass and generate a results page containing images that share identical qualities with the uploaded image.
Google has 3 apps that use image search technology:
- Google Images
- Google Search By Images
- Google Lens
With Google Images, the user enters a term that best describes the item he is looking for such as “running shoes”, “stein glass”, or “cargo pants”. Then, Google retrieves images that meet the description.
In comparison, Google Search by Images uses reverse image search technology. To find the product he’s looking for, the user can either upload an image of the item or copy and paste the URL of the image.
Once an image of the product is uploaded, the website’s search engine scans its database. If the product is in stock, the website can retrieve its details for the user to review and decide whether to purchase it or not.
Google Lens is similar to Google Search By Images. Just upload an image of the item you’re searching for. But the capabilities of Google Lens don’t end there.
If you’re in a foreign country and can’t understand the menu, take a picture and have Google Lens translate it to English. Are you stumped by a mathematical problem? Upload a picture of the problem to Google Lens and it will search the Internet for the right solution.
Of these types of image search technologies, reverse image search appears to be the most ideal and practical for e-commerce websites.
How Does Voice and Image Search Revolutionize E-Commerce?
If you’re shopping at a brick-and-mortar store and you need help looking for a product, all you have to do is ask for help from a salesperson. He’ll search for the item in the store’s inventory which is organized in a database. If the item is available, he’ll look for it in the storage room.
It might take a few minutes but the salesperson will get you the item you’ve come to their store for. If the item is exactly what you need, you’ll be thanking the salesperson and leaving the store as one happy customer.
Voice and image search technologies replicate the salesperson’s role in your e-commerce website. The computer will run the search through its database and retrieve results that accurately correspond to the voice or image inquiry.
The difference is that you don’t pay the voice AI and image ML systems a monthly salary, benefits, and overtime. They don’t get sick and they work 24/7.
As an e-commerce business, your store will have more opportunities to ring in the cash registers. Voice and image search will help your online store become a money-making machine because it offers many advantages.
1. Quicker But More Detailed and Accurate Search Results
Unless you’re an experienced chat support agent or legal assistant, professionals who can type 65 to 75 words per minute, you can probably type an average of 38 to 40 words per minute. That translates to roughly 200 characters per minute.
Now, verbalize those words. For sure, it will take you less than a minute to verbalize 40 words. As a test, verbalize the preceding paragraph which consists of 41 words, and time yourself.
Of course, no one composes a 40-word search query. With voice search, you can launch a longer, more detailed description of what you are searching for to get accurate results.
It’s also easier and faster to upload a high-resolution image than to compose a text query. Depending on the software program, you’ll probably need 1 to 3 clicks to get the computer to run a search through its image bank.
2. Help Manage a Busy Lifestyle
If you’re working as the Purchasing Manager of a restaurant chain, voice and image search will help you get your job done faster and more accurately.
For example, you need a specific replacement part for your soft serve ice cream maker but you’re not sure of what the product is called. If the e-commerce website has a voice feature, you can give a detailed verbal description of the item that you’re looking for:
“Soft serve ice cream mixing blade 17 inches long polymer material”
If the site has an image search feature, the user just has to upload a picture of the product. He could check off the task from his to-do list right away and go to another task.
Now, if that were your e-commerce website, the Purchasing Manager would become a frequent buyer!
3. Improve Sales Conversion Rate
When customers visit your e-commerce website, they already know what they want or at least have an idea of what they need.
Having voice or image search available on your website will improve its sales conversion rate because it will reduce the time it takes to move from interest to final purchase.
You don’t want to give the site user enough time to second-guess his decision and not buy the item. As psychologists have discovered, buying is an emotional decision rather than a rational one.
In our example above, do you think the Purchasing Manager will click out of the e-commerce website if the soft serve ice cream blade is available? No! He’ll say “Yes!” and head to the checkout counter right away.
The sooner you can get the information to the screen of the site user, the greater the chances he transitions from interested prospect to paying customer.
4. Support Mobile Technology
55% of online searchers originate from mobile devices. That number will continue to rise as work and life migrate to a mobile lifestyle. Technology companies are aware of this fact and are motivated by the business opportunities presented by image and voice search software.
Consumers will prefer to patronize an e-commerce business that has voice or image search features because the experience would be more convenient. They could transact with the online retailer from a subway train, a coffee shop, or their workstations.
5. Boost Sales and Marketing Efforts for Local Listings
In the United States, 58% of people who did voice searches were looking for establishments within their vicinity. Of this segment, 74% ran a voice search at least once a week.
How can a local business maximize voice search?
All you have to do is to program a geographical keyword – your location – in the voice recognition software. Voice searches that include the geo keyword, for example, “Agoura Hills” will have your website indexed by the search engine.
If your website has an image search function and the user’s image query shows that you have the product in stock, he’ll go to your store right away.
6. Enhance Business Branding Strategy
We’ve discussed how voice and image search technologies can enhance user experience but they can also enhance your business branding strategy. Effective branding is all about perception.
“How does my market perceive my business?”
If users see that your e-commerce website has the capabilities for voice and image search, they will view your brand as one that’s committed to their happiness as well as invested in making the business the best online retail store in the industry.
Customers will know that you’re updated in technology as much as they are and will appreciate your efforts in ensuring excellent service every time they are on your website.
It’s easy math for customers. If the business is willing to invest in the latest technologies then, it must be invested in selling the best products to its market.
7. Move Up the Search Rankings
The growth of the e-commerce industry has been astronomical in the last 4-5 years. In 2019, it was estimated that there were a total of 9.2 million e-commerce businesses. In 2023, that number has grown to 26.5 million e-commerce businesses.
To stay ahead of the competition, you must move up the search rankings. Optimizing your e-commerce website for search should be a top priority but so should improving user experience.
Providing site users with voice and image search features will improve user experience because searching for products they need becomes faster, easier, more convenient, and more efficient.
Customers will become frequent visitors to your website, peruse its contents more, learn about your business, and collectively, these activities will reduce your site’s bounce rate.
Other metrics such as time spent on page, number of visits, number of unique visitors, and page views will get a boost if customers are happy with their experience of using your website.
In combination with smart onsite and offsite optimization strategies, your e-commerce website should climb up the search rankings and past your competitors.
How often do you make mistakes typing a search query on your smartphone? Typing mistakes happen frequently when you’re rushing, stressed out, or in transit.
Equipping your e-commerce website with voice or image search technologies will make it easier and faster for customers to find the product they’re looking for… and with fewer chances of making mistakes.
Just like a brick-and-mortar retail business, it’s not enough to have quality products. You must match your product mix with excellent service to make the experience memorable and encourage customers to keep coming back.
If you’re thinking of setting up an e-commerce business, give us a call or drop us an email. We’ll design one for you with built-in voice and image search functions to impress site users and put you a step ahead of the competition.
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