Like To Know It, an influencer platform and discovery app, unveiled a new search feature for its mobile app on Thursday that hits on some of the larger trends in discovery, personalization and mobile shopping.
The new search feature will let customers search for all sorts of products with results being made up of posts from influencers that are a part of Like To Know It’s network. What makes this search feature different than others is that all products will be shown in context. For example, a pair of shoes will not be shown unworn on a plain white background but instead will be shown in the context of an entire outfit. Additionally, every single search result will be shoppable.
In this way, Like To Know It is hoping thats its search feature will act as a way for consumers to both find the products they want or get style inspiration for how to style currently owned products, or both at the same time.
“The results are all images from influencers, so you’ll be seeing products in a natural environment showing them actually being used,” said Ben Newell, vp of product at Like To Know It’s parent company RewardStyle. “Seeing things in a real world environment is so helpful for consumers making decisions.”
The idea behind the new search feature is that customers will “go down the rabbit hole,” searching for products, being inspired by what products are shown alongside the originally searched-for ones, which in turn inspire further searching and purchasing. This is meant to build a sense of personalization that accrues over time as customers narrow down what they are looking for.
“We wanted it to include all this information from our influencers and what they said about the products in our search data. People could search for ‘Christmas,’ which isn’t a product but is something that people would search. Events is a similar area where we see a lot of consumer interest. Once our consumers got the hang of searching for jeans or boots, we pressed them on what else to search for and events was something that came up. Things like Christmas parties or a gala or something like that – people are interested in searching those looks.”
The addition of a new search model comes at a time when Like To Know It’s business model is undergoing big changes. Since Facebook and Instagram began restricting access to certain data sets Like To Know It was relying on, such as likes, the company has been looking for new ways to monetize and operate that are independent of Instagram.
This type of contextualized, personalized visual search has become a popular tactic among brands and retailers. Last year, Google launched a new tool that lets customers upload a piece of apparel and receive suggestions on what would go with it. An early prototype created by Forever 21 in May of a similar visual search and recommendation engine was so successful at increasing sales and conversions that the retailer fast-tracked a full version that launched in August.
“Visual search bridges the gap between the convenience of online shopping and the rich discovery experience of traditional retail by enabling our customers to search for clothing in the same way they think about it — using visuals, not words,” Forever 21 president Alex Ok told Glossy at the time of the launch.
The closest analogue to Like To Know It’s new search feature is Pinterest. The idea of searching for products and seeing them in a real-life context rather than the sterile white backdrops that are often seen on brand or retailer sites is one that Pinterest has been pursuing for years. Pinterest completely redesigned its pin system last month in a similar manner to Like To Know It by showing recommended items related to the current one being viewed that are all shoppable.
As this type of contextualized search increasingly becomes the norm, Like To Know It is banking on the “rabbit hole” of related products, personalized recommendations, contextualized imagery and shoppable content to help it stand out in the growing world of visual search.
“People really quickly latched onto that idea of, ‘Man, I would really love to look for things I already own and see how they’re styled.'”