Retail marketers often use “visual search” and “visual discovery” interchangeably to refer to the use of images and videos to find products. But as the visual world evolves, these terms are diverging to encompass separate parts of the customer journey. Visual search implies intent. Visual discovery implies curiosity.
While platforms like Google are well-suited for capturing consumers who know what they’re seeking, Pinterest and Instagram also can excel in those moments when consumers roam online and stumble upon brands and products that excite them.
This distinction is important to understand as consumers develop new expectations around the purpose and capabilities of visuals in their online shopping experiences. Increasingly, consumers want media such as lifestyle images, shop-by-look features and photo-recognition tools to cater not to just search, but also to discovery.
As a result, retail marketers are rethinking what visual discovery means for their strategies, particularly with the holiday shopping season approaching. Visual discovery is an increasingly important marketing process that, when optimized well, can help drive stronger customer engagement and purchase during the critical holiday time and year-round.