Google Lens is coming to smartphones very soon and this will begin to change how we search again. We have seen massive changes with search recently, however, from a shopping perspective this is a retail game changer.
Within Google Lens has been created the very powerful visual search called ‘Style Match’. By painting your phone’s camera at some clothes or interior products, Google Lens will scan the products for visual cues, search through available products and return visual results that will show you similar items that are a ‘style match’.
What this means for retailers
It’s a known fact that users will look up items online while shopping in another store. Shoppers also like to do research online before they shop so they know if they can get what they want locally. For retailers with physical stores, particularly boutiques, this may be a terrifying concept. The expensive outfit that you have in your shop window can be found instantly online and possibly at a cheaper price. While this may be a scary concept it may also be an opportunity to grow.
Looking at it from the other side, let’s say you are a boutique in a town like Boyle, Co. Roscommon. You have your local clients, a physical store and rent to keep playing, however, the footfall that you get is lower than what you need. In this scenario, if you place your products (and optimised them for SEO too) online on an e-commerce platform, you have the great potential to gain more customers by simply having great items in stock.
How do I get involved?
The full details of ‘style match’ with Google Lens have not yet been released, however, it appears to be solely based on image recognition. Simply having good quality and cleanly photographed images will help you, however, I would not abandon your ‘alt’ image tags just yet. I feel that at the moment these still play a valuable role in helping Google’s algorithm. The ‘alt’ tag starts the process of sorting and organising images into a primary category “pink handbags”, then using image recognition to refine the categories “.
The next step you should take is to use Structured Data, this gives Google and other search engines definitive categorising of your pages structure. It allows Google to know what exactly where your product’s image, price, reviews, brand etc are, and defines them for a more complete structure.
One step into the future.
Google has also announced that soon (no exact date) they will be releasing screen versions of the Smart Speaker systems for Google Home. This will be a voice-activated home assistant that you can ask questions and it will return results. The interface design will be clean and easy to view. This further emphasises the need for structured mark up on recipes, products, articles etc. If you’re not optimising your content to help the search engines find you, you will reduce your chances of being displayed in these new results. Basically, you need to be in it to win it.