Visii: Enabling Customers to Search with Their Mind’s Eye – A Totally New Approach to Search (Ben Grandy, Commercial Director)
With the onset of the global pandemic, both traditional and online retailers have seen a massive acceleration in changes to a landscape that was already quickly evolving. If you are running an online business, it’s absolutely crucial to stay up to date with the latest trends affecting your company. Every week, Graham Broughton, co-founder and Managing Director of Storesome (a turnkey marketplace solution and part of the We Are Pentagon Group) interviews thought leaders within the ecommerce industry to pull back the curtain on the latest industry trends, from payments, logistics, to the newest technologies.
In the first episode of the new season, dedicated to exploiting the evolution of search within ecommerce; Graham was joined by Ben Grandy, Commercial Director of Visii. Visii uses its ground-breaking intuition-based AI to take a completely new approach to search and online shopping. This exclusive podcast episode covered several topics around search, including what Visii does, how the AI intuition works and what the process would look like for an online retailer who wants to utilise Visii’s solution.
This is a summary of a live podcast episode on June 14, 2021. You can listen to the full 23-minute episode here: https://bit.ly/3zL3Zq9.
What is Visii?
Visii takes the search out of shopping with its exponentially better intuition-based AI: a totally new approach to online sales which uses the context of human behaviour to help understand customers and serve them with exactly what they want, every single time.
Visii has many tools available to help increase merchant’s sales and transform their customers’ experience, but one of Visii’s most popular technologies is visual search (Visii Explore), helping retailers to sell what their customers may not be able to describe. Pictured below, is a live example of Visii Explore on the Saatchi Art gallery website, which 47% of customers now use before making a purchase on Saatchi Art.
Visii’s goal is simple. As Ben mentions, “we all find online shopping frustrating at times.” There are several reasons why this could be the case, but ultimately, it comes down to search. Although you can have really great experiences with search, often there can be a lot of ‘friction’ involved. According to Ben, the vision and inspiration behind Visii is “ultimately serving a need to help people find what they are looking for.” If you run an online business, then you may be aware that low product page views and low conversion rates often leave a lot of revenue on the table. Visii’s concept is simple: it’s about bridging that gap.
Visii aims to intuitively understand the tastes and preferences of customers. Once that is understood, you are able to intuitively serve them the items that they’re looking for. According to Ben, it’s a very visual business, because we as humans are very visual beings – we do most things with our eyes, and in fact, we “process images about 66x quicker than technology”. However, although we are visually-led, we are context-driven. This means that nailing the visual aspect of search doesn’t necessarily tick all the boxes, it’s very important to also understand the context. That’s what Visii – through its AI intuition drive – attempts to do: combine the visual aspect of search with context, which is now a patented solution.
How does intuition AI work?
The idea of a search solution that intuitively understands our tastes and preferences and can recommend listings based on that knowledge sounds incredibly useful for both consumers and online retailers alike. But how does this AI work?
Essentially, there are many thousands of data points, and according to Ben, what Visii is trying to do, “is not personalisation, but creating a personalisable experience.” If customers can create a personalised experience, the level of control they can exert allows us to form an understanding of their choices and intuition. Although there are a lot of different types of search and techniques, to really understand a customer’s context, you have to put a lot of these together, which is what the intuition drive does. This includes many different factors, such as the time of day and the weather.
For instance, someone could be looking to buy a sofa for a living room, while at the same time looking for a chair for someone’s bedroom. The context is constantly evolving; therefore Visii does not want to rely too heavily on people’s previous history when it comes to search. Visii bases search on what Ben describes as “in-the-moment context”, and that’s achieved by leveraging multiple different data points.
Utilising Visii as a Retailer
Graham then delved into a topic that was likely on a lot of people’s minds, and which you may want to know the answer to if you run an online business. If you are a retailer who wants to utilise Visii, what would that process look like?
According to Ben, there are various different placements: Visii would be on the homepage, the product listing page, and the product display pages. Essentially, the AI takes aggregated data in order to personalise it to the individual. Visii offers a unique and novel experience which they call the ‘Web App’. This is a number of pictures and items which are updated rapidly every time you click on an item (or indeed, don’t click). Within 3 clicks, you would be able to see a significant number of different items, and the brain is so visually-led that you start honing in on a product. In this way, the AI begins to understand your context and what you’re looking for, whether that be a specific texture, style, or colour, etc. This works across different product ranges, too. For example, if the AI knows your style in jackets is X, then it can also understand what types of shirts to recommend to you.
Ultimately, the idea is that the search function is being provided on an individual level. Visii also tries to comprehend at which stage the customer is on their journey. There is always a time when a customer is looking for inspiration, the same way there is a time when the customer is honing in on a product. The AI recognises this, in order to be able to change those recommendations and understand when the consumer is at the ‘honing in’ part of their customer journey. In addition, it’s important to recognise when the customer is still searching across different items looking for inspiration, so that they can keep a certain amount of variety involved in the listings.
To round things off, Graham brought up a key question for anyone who may be looking to implement Visii’s solution for their online business: what sort of increase in conversions might retailers expect when embedding this type of technology?
Ultimately, every client will be different, but Ben expects a “minimum of a 12% increase, and we’ve gone into the hundreds”. In terms of revenue, it can be difficult to say, as Visii has customers in multiple different sectors: furniture, art, fashion, jewellery etc. However, he says that generally the benchmark is a “20% uplift in revenue”, and that is usually “in a month or two months from implementation”.
Overall, it is clear to see that the technology behind Visii is very exciting, both in terms of improving our experience with search as consumers, but also adding a ton of value for online retailers by bridging that gap between what a customer is looking for and the appropriate listings.
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