Visual Search: 5 Questions With Oliver Tan, ViSenze


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Have you ever been shopping for something and know exactly what it looks like, but have no idea what it’s called? Visual search is the term for a suite of emerging technologies that solve this problem. Instead of guessing keywords, simply upload a picture and see an array of similar items. Combining AI and machine learning with computer vision, a number of innovative tech startups are creating and using new visual search solutions.

Oliver Tan HeadshotViSenze is one such company, and a leader in the category. Recently named a 2017 Interbrand Breakthrough Brand, we had the opportunity to ask ViSenze Co-Founder and CEO Oliver Tan (right) about how the company is solving consumer problems, growing as a business and creating a brand in a very new but competitive  space.

How is your brand answering a unique need in the marketplace, or improving on what’s out there? How are you looking to create a new experience for customers?

ViSenze believes that the fundamental search process needs to be simplified, and that the future of search is visual. Our technology simplifies the online search and discovery process for online shoppers by making it easy for them to find the product that they are looking for by uploading images that inspire them—as opposed to searching by keywords.

Brands also benefit from our visual search technology, as they see increased sales when consumers find products at their exact moment of inspiration. And they find customers have a greater affinity for their brand, which is driven by a more enjoyable customer experience as they seek and find the products they want.

Are you trying to create or disrupt a category? How are you using or creating technologies in new ways?

ViSenze is transforming and disrupting the visual search category by simplifying the way that people search for products. By combining deep learning, computer vision and deep analytics, we help consumers find and discover products through thousands of visual attributes like color, pattern, shape and style-types. By optimizing this data that is gathered from online shoppers, we are able to create new levels of conversion and engagement for e-tailers and marketplaces.

Tell us about how you’ve been growing since launch—and in what way? How are you measuring this growth?

ViSenze has seen tremendous overall growth since the company was launched in 2012. In 2016 alone, we processed an average of over one million image queries per day, and we’ve increased that daily volume by three times already this year. ViSenze’s client adoption has expanded significantly across North America, South America, Europe, North Asia, and South East Asia, and we’ve set up offices in San Francisco, London, New Delhi and Beijing, in addition to our Singapore headquarters, to cater to the increased demand for our Enterprise AI Solutions. We raised a Series B round of funding worth $10.5 million in September 2016, and intend to double our headcount to 100 employees in the next nine months.

ViSenze measures its growth by the volume of search queries that are processed as well as the uplift in conversion rates that our retail clients see after implementing our technology. We feel that the e-commerce market is showing continued growth, so we connect with retailers by showing the inspirational and influential value that images have on consumers. The advantage for the retailer today is they can leverage social media images to promote discovery of their products, and increase audience reach and conversion rates.

When will you think you’ve made it and are no longer a Breakthrough Brand—or is it always day one?

ViSenze’s mission is to solve real world search problems through new and innovative technologies like artificial intelligence and computer vision. Innovation is a priority for us, so we’re always listening to our clients to learn about their business needs to determine what our upcoming product roadmaps should look like. We are proud to be a Breakthrough Brand, but at the same time we’re always striving to do bigger and better things as a company.

How is the brand driving engagement with consumers and clients, and how successful have you been?

Today we see more brands engaging with customers through social media platforms, so for us, platforms like Pinterest and Instagram are the sweet spot because they’re visually-driven. We feel that these platforms are where users naturally convert from browsers to real buyers, wherever the ultimate purchase actually happens.

As an AI company for e-commerce, we primarily target e-tailers and online marketplaces. Through our visual search platform, we’ve uplifted conversion rates by 85% for e-tailers across various markets, and have also seen a five-times gross merchandise value increase in some cases. We’re also seeing client adoption globally across North America, South America, Europe, North Asia and South East Asia.

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