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How Became Visually Searchable

Through a partnership with visual search platform Slyce, can now provide consumers with the shoes most similar to those in pictures they submit.

Consumers can use the site’s camera button to snap a picture of any pair of shoes, whether they’re featured in a magazine or being worn by someone on the bus. Slyce’s mobile image-recognition software then scans the website’s inventory – which includes popular brands such as Michael Kors, Nine West and UGG – and presents the closest approximations. The search results are product pages, making purchases as easy as possible.


According to Roger Hardy, co-founder and chief executive (CEO) of, this integration makes online shopping more of a real world experience.

“Whether customers are inspired by a pair of shoes while browsing Instagram or out for lunch with a friend, this platform will allow them to be taken from inspiration to discovery within a matter of seconds,” he says. Hardy adds that visual search has the potential to be a game-charger, particularly in a visually-oriented world like retail.

“Visual search technology is giving customers a convenient and engaging means of discovering new products,” Hardy says. “These types of next-generation shopping experiences will bring more customers to, increasing online penetration within the footwear category overall.”

Nii Ahene, co-founder and chief operating officer at CPC Strategy, thinks this new feature could help hold its own against other retailers and even Google. When Google bought price comparison website in 2010, it also acquired Visually Similar, which works the same way. However, Visually Similar is part of Google Shopping rather than a standalone feature.

Zappos got into visual search six years ago, when the items on the page would arrange by similarity based on which products consumers clicked. Macy’s and Nieman Marcus also have visual search components within their respective apps, the latter of which is also powered by Slyce.

“It’s a good feature, but total impact might be muted since most implementations of this sort of feature have been pretty clumsy,” Ahene says. “I’m definitely a fan of visual search from a consumer standpoint, though, especially in the apparel and footwear categories.”

The integration has already rolled out on’s mobile site. Though the Canadian e-commerce brand caters to men, women and children, the visual search feature only applies to women’s shoes for now.

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