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Asos customers can now use visual search to find the product they’re looking for

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Asos UK shoppers can now use visual search to pinpoint the item they’re looking for from the retailer’s range of more than 85,000 items.

The retailer, a Leading trader in IRUK Top500 research, has introduced the functionality to its iOS app so that shoppers can easily find products that look similar to one they’ve seen – whether that item was worn by a friend, posted on Instagram, or pictured in a magazine. Visual search will also soon be available on its Android app.

The visual search tool is currently shown as a camera icon that appears in the ASOS app search bar. With a single tap, customers will be able to take a quick photograph of something they see someone wearing – and task the search tool to find similar products. Users can also upload photographs from their camera roll, such as a photograph they took previously or a screenshot from social media, and search for products that look the same.

Asos says the function is the latest step in a tradition that began in 2000 when the company was launched with the goal of making it possible for people to buy products they saw on screens. Other highlights have included launching what the retailer says was the world’s first video catwalk – Asos says its catwalk videos are now viewed more than 35m times a month.

Eighty per cent of UK traffic for ASOS comes from a mobile device, as do almost 70% of UK orders, and people spend an average of 80 minutes a month in the ASOS app, says the retailer. “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, Asos’ digital product director.

“Ever since Asos was founded, we have been driven by using innovation to delight our customers and improve their lives in little ways,” said Berks. “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 describes its approach to innovation as a build-measure-learn one. It holds regular internal hackathons, partners with fashion tech startups, accelerators and VC firms and uses data and customer test groups. All feed into its aim of continually improving the user experience. It has also put AI to service in powering its recommendation engine, which uses big data and algorithms to learn customes’ preferences over time. Asos says it is also investing heavily to improve site infrastructure to drive agility and speed up innovations for customers.

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