In a world of competing voices, visual speaks volumes

Man dancing

The answer is visual search

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

Amy Vener
Retail Vertical Strategy Lead, Pinterest
“Retailers can get ahead of these changes and ensure a future of continual discovery by investing in the power of visual search.”

Like shopping in the physical world

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

Ensuring a future of continual discovery

Visual technology powers everything on Pinterest, from the content recommendations to the way we serve ads. Image recognition and machine learning fuel innovative new products like Lens and Shop the Look. This technology delivers unique visual marketing solutions to retailers. Unlike text or voice, visual search sits squarely in the native shopping environment consumers already understand, like with the running shoes above, it’s similar to how they shop in physical stores today.

Shifts in consumer behavior can feel subtle when they’re happening, but they have long-lasting effects on our expectations, buying habits and brand relationships. Retailers can get ahead of these changes and ensure a future of continual discovery by investing in the power of visual search. Even in a world of competing voices, the one that leaves a lasting impression is visual.

Join us at Shoptalk

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