Wayfair Launches Visual Search, Pinterest-Style Boards

Wayfair has phased in a new way to “search by image.” Users can simply point their smart device’s camera at a piece of furniture they like, and Wayfair will generate search results for related pieces on their website.

The move was inspired by similar search-by-image initiatives at Pinterest, Google, and Amazon, where evolving visual technology is paving new inroads for consumers to connect with products.

Wayfair’s visual search engine is a great tool for bargain hunters, who may be inspired by higher-end home furnishings but need to create a similar look on a budget.  Wayfair, of course, has high-end options as well, and users will be able to browse the full gamut to decide which item is right for them. Or, if they can’t decide, they can “favorite” items and save them to idea boards, a la Pinterest.

“Our ‘Search with Photo’ feature is one application of our proprietary computer vision system,” explains Matt Zisow, Wayfair’s Director of Product. “What sets our application apart is the rich, massive, proprietary furniture and décor data set that we used to train our models, which continue to get smarter as users engage with visual search results.”

Amazon, too, is poised to enter the furniture market with a new system for furniture sellers. Now, instead of having to sell and deliver nation-wide, sellers can set their own prices and procedures, delivering only where it makes sense to do so. The minimum service requirement is delivery to a dry room (no outdoor drop-off), although retailers can offer as many extra services as they choose.

However, even though Amazon’s mobile app has had visual search technology for a while, the feature is under-utilized, since many Amazon shoppers already know what they want to buy when they log in to the site. The company last year introduced the “Interesting Finds” online gift shop to address the lack of features for product inspiration and discovery.

Still, Amazon’s shortcomings in the arena will likely leave Wayfair poised to be number one in online furniture retail. Wayfair believes its large data set, including 8 million SKUs, will contribute to its success.