Programmatic Lunch

As Seen On Snapchat? ASOS rolls out visual search tools for UK iPhone users

Tim Maytom


Online fashion retailer ASOS has launched new visual search technology within its iOS app, rolling the feature out to all its UK customers. iPhone users will now be able to use the smartphone app to instantly search through 85,000 products using just a photo.

Customers will be able to use any image from their phone camera roll to search through ASOS’ range, including pictures of friends, photos from magazines or screenshots from social media. The visual search tool will appear as a camera icon within the app’s search bar, and also enables users to quickly snap an item of clothing they see when they’re out and about to look for it on ASOS.

ASOS was founded in 2000, and initially focused on enabling customers to buy items of clothing they had seen on television and in films, but quickly evolved into one of the world’s leading fashion retailers. The company now employs a tech team of 900 people, with plans to add 200 more next year.

The firm has embraced mobile as it has grown, and today sees 80 per cent of UK traffic and 70 per cent of orders arrive via a mobile device. The iOS app is one of the highest-rated shopping apps in the Apple app store, and customers average 80 minutes per month spent browsing within it.

“We know this is where our customers are and it’s how they interact with us every day, so we are always looking for ways that are mobile native to make their experience even better,” said Andy Berks, digital product director at ASOS.

“Ever since ASOS was founded, we have been driven by using innovation to delight our customers and improve their lives in little ways. But our technology has always been in their service, and never just for its own sake. Our latest tech, visual search, is a case in point: inspiration can strike you anywhere and at any time – whether it’s a photo in a magazine, scrolling through an Instagram feed or even on a local street corner.

“Now, with just a couple of taps of their mobile device, ASOS customers can capture that fleeting moment and instantly search our 85,000 product lines to find the item that’s inspired them – or similar – at just the right time.”

ASOS’ focus on technology will continue, with its developers strengthening its AI-powered recommendation engine and holding regular internal hackathons to develop new customer-centred innovations. An Android version of the visual search tool is planned for rollout in the UK soon.

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