Superfish says "virtual window shopping" will tempt consumers more this Christmas

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This holiday season shoppers will most likely be more tempted to buy a product online based more on what it looks like on their computer screens, than what a link or word search of the same item might show, according to data by the visual product search company Superfish.

In an interview with VentureBeat, Superfish said that electronics was the number one category where people used visual search, with apparel the next most popular category.

Consumers are also exhibiting extremely high clickthrough rates (the amount of users who click on an item, divided by the amount of times the item appears) within the home and garden category, with furniture and lighting seeing almost 20 percent clickthroughs as buyers begin selecting products based on what images they like best.

“In a typical comparison shopping situation, people find a product they’re interested in and then try to compare prices on that product across different stores. They would usually use the product’s model number or some keyword description as the basis for comparison,” said Joe Dew, head of product for Superfish, told VentureBeat.

“But what we discovered was that 30-40 percent of our merchant clicks were for visually similar products. These are products with different names and model numbers and from different merchants but share a common visual shape or characteristic,” said Dew. “We believe this behavior suggests that the ability for consumers to easily find visually similar products across many stores will become an important discovery tool for shoppers.”

The San Mateo, Calif., company was in stealth research mode for several years before rolling out its first prototype, Window Shopper, in April. The Firefox and Internet Explorer browser add-on allows users to search for images instead of text to find a broad range of similar products across thousands of sites simultaneously.

At this time, the company doesn’t offer add-ons for other browsers like Google Chrome or Safari.

The Superfish platform analyzes any image as a search query, converts that image and returns identical or similar matches to the query from an index of over 110 million products within seconds.

Superfish visual search technology is also served on a scalable platform designed to be easily accessible to third party developers.

The company received $4 million in third round funding in November, an infusion it says it will use to muscle up its market position and focus on developing its “visual DNA” search technology.

Since its launch last spring, Window Shopper has grown to over 1 million active users and continues to expand across all sectors as it competes with other similar visual shopping sites like Spezify.com and Google acquisition Like.com.


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