Mobile Commerce

Urban Outfitters Takes A Stab At Visual Search

In elementary school, students are often told that there are two types of learners: visual ones and auditory ones. Urban Outfitters is betting that there are just as many visual shoppers out there, too.

The millennial-centric retailer announced Tuesday (Oct. 6) that it has partnered with Slyce, a Toronto-based startup specializing in image recognition and search. Once Slyce has been integrated into Urban Outfitter’s system, customers will be able to take pictures of any object, and if the retailer stocks it, those consumers will be able to make purchases directly by following links in the photo.

The move makes sense for Urban Outfitters, which counts millennial, tech-savvy shoppers among its key consumer base. The retailer experienced a 4-percent increase in direct-to-consumer sales during Q2 2015, and a service that allows customers to take pictures one second and complete a purchase the next will only push those figures higher.

However, that is of course contingent on the success of Slyce’s technology.

“Right now, retailers are having to rapidly adapt to the changing ways consumers are choosing to shop,” Mark Elfenbein, chief digital officer at Slyce, told “Visual product search literally puts the retailer wherever their customer is when they become inspired to buy a product, making the entire physical world a showroom.”

Slyce is far from the first or only startup to try to make visual search an intuitive part of the modern path to purchase, but if it can get its product in front of Urban Outfitters’ mobile-ready customers, it may be a recipe for success.

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