Voice assistants can do many things. They can quiz my kids on state capitals, help them to turn off the lights and make them giggle by telling jokes. But can they help with the bigger task of shopping for my family?
The answer, of course, is “yes.” The voice assistant in my house helps restock the things my family uses up, and we’re not alone. The number of people using voice assistants in the US is booming.1 And a recent survey found that 29% of people who own a voice assistant use it to shop and 41% plan to do so in the future.2
For retailers, this poses a real challenge. After all, retail is rooted in introducing consumers to new possibilities. Everything from window displays to the way stores are designed is meant to help people discover something new. So when consumers replace something they’ve used up and don’t have an alternative choice, how will anyone find and try new brands?
The answer is visual search, that is people using their eyes, like they always have, instead of tapping text or calling out commands. On Pinterest, more than 2 billion searches happen every month, making it the place to reach people while they’re actively considering what to do or buy next. And 97% of those searches are unbranded, making Pinterest a place where people are open to hearing from brands they haven’t considered before.3
“Retailers can get ahead of these changes and ensure a future of continual discovery by investing in the power of visual search.”
Thanks to cameras in everyone’s pocket and the 100 billion Pins on our platform, we are creating digital consumer shopping experiences that mirror what it’s like to shop in the physical world. For example, if you’re shopping for running shoes in a store, you begin by visiting the shoe department, then pick out a running shoe.
On Pinterest, you can click on images of the shoes you want to see, and then you can see similar styles before settling on the ones you want. And increasing numbers of people are choosing to shop just this way. There’s a reason for the saying, “You know it when you see it.” People now do more than 600 million visual searches every month across Lens, our browser extension, and the visual search tool inside Pins. That’s a 140% increase year over year.4
For more on the changing search landscape and the power of visual discovery, visit me and the rest of Pinterest crew at Shoptalk in Las Vegas later this month. And be sure not to miss the keynote talk by our co-founder, Ben Silbermann on Monday March 19 at 1:45 pm PST.
—Amy Vener, saving to Outdoor Inspirations
1Consumer Intelligence Retail Partners, November 2017
2Narvar, “Bots, Text and Voice: What Cuts through the Clutter,” July 2017
3Pinterest internal data, Feb 2017
4Pinterest internal data, February 2018