October 31, 2017 Raz Chorev

11 start-ups revolutionising shopping experience

The iPhone is celebrating its’ 10th anniversary this year. It’s not the first phone to include a camera, but even the first iPhone had a significantly better camera than any of the other phones, back in 2007. This simple feature we take for granted nowadays, combined with continuous, high-speed cellular internet connection, and the platform environment on all mobile operating systems (IOS, Android, and Windows), provided a fertile ground for technology entrepreneurs to reimagine customer shopping experience.

Adding to the mobile technologies above, image recognition software tools have improved dramatically in the past few years and augmented reality (AR) applications have expanded outside the gaming environment. Not yet fully mainstream, but it certainly going in that direction. Both AR (Augmented Reality) and Image Recognition technologies are changing the way we experience shopping.

Artificial Intelligence & Machine Learning are the underlying technologies, allowing smart operators to build visual tools, to transform the way we shop and interact with rich online media and offline environment.

We are currently working with a client on reimagining the printed catalogue and printed magazine experience. One part of the services we’re creating is using image recognition and Augmented Reality to enable readers to interact with images in magazines and simplify the buying experience directly from printed catalogues.

I’d like to share with you some of the capabilities and technologies currently available for a variety of industries (retail, fashion, homewares, real estate, etc.), we’ve come across during our research phase:

Optimising the shopping experience;

  1. Visenze – An artificial intelligence start-up based in Singapore, and supported by the National University of Singapore. They optimise visual search, with existing e-commerce platforms. Working with both large-scale retailers and publishers, the company offers web tools including Search by Image, product recommendations, Out of Stock alternatives, and Augmented Product tagging. Visenze focuses on enhancing e-commerce platforms, converting website visitors to shoppers.
  2. Imagga – an Image Recognition Platform-as-a-Service providing Image Tagging APIs for developers & businesses to build scalable, image-intensive apps. All APIs include Tagging, Cropping, Categorisation and colour segmentation. The company offers API packages based on the volume of images per month, from 12,000 to 100B. They also have a Free version, for testing and small usage companies, tagging up to 2000 images per month.
  3. Syte.ai – Developed next-generation machine learning technologies focused on image recognition and prediction. They aim to use AI to understand the concept and meaning of images and predict consumer behaviour. Heavy focus on Fashion Retail. This video explains it well
  4. Catchoom – A Spanish start-up, developing applications and tools in modify shopping and product experiences. One of the first players in this market, with real global traction since 2012. Catchoom’s transform printed media into interactive media, using AR, AI, and image recognition technologies.
  5. Blippar – a large, well-funded player in the AI / AR market. Massive traction with global consumer brands – Walmart, Greenpeace, and Argos (in the UK) to name a few. A good example of their work can be seen here:

    Blippar offers Their own free-to-use app, customised AR apps, and SDK (Software Development Kits).

  6. Curalate is an established player in the social commerce space. Used by over 800 large retailers such as GAP, Nordstrom, Staples, and Fossil to name a few, Curalate enables their clients to use social content, social platforms, and social audiences to sell more effectively across various
  7. Restb.ai – A specialized Image Recognition API for Real Estate. The technology uses AI to tag property photos, organise and enable visual browsing, helping to boost SEO, increase conversion and even monetise 3rd party logos. The company is based in Barcelona, Spain, and backed by various VCs.
  8. Clarifai – A US-based (NY and SF, CA.) venture-backed company, which developed a developer’s tool for visual search. Artificial intelligence tool to automatically tag and organise images AND videos. Can be used to moderate community engagement, scanning images for nudity, weapons, and illegal substances, and allows customisation of visual filters for off-brand content. Some notable clients include Unilever, BuzzFeed and Trivago. The toolkit was also used for a healthcare company, jointly developing a diagnostic tool that recognises ear problems with 99% accuracy!
  9. Sentient one of the AI industry darlings in Silicon Valley. The company has been in operation for close to a decade, developing their engine and products, and become commercially available only a couple of years ago, with massive traction, backed by $172M venture funding. The company has developed 3 main vertical product, including one in the investment space (which I’m not going to discuss here, as it is still in a very early stage of development).
    Sentient Aware enables you to staff your online store with an AI sales associate to help shoppers find exactly what they’re looking for. Their e-commerce recommendation engine takes the hassle out of manually tagging similar products.
    Sentient Ascend is conversion optimization software which automates and accelerates website testing and optimization, allowing you to drive revenues and conversion improvements faster than ever before.
  10. Markable – An early stage VC backed start-up, focusing on fashion only visual search and recommendation engines for e-commerce websites and publishers. They offer SDKs to help website visitors find what they’re looking for, Discover new items (which they didn’t necessarily consider before), and imagine what garments and accessories can look like when the customer wears them.
    In addition, the company had developed a tool to maximising visual SEO, dissecting rich media (images and videos) to automatically meta tag items featured in both images and videos across the website.
  11. Slyce.it – Originally from Canada (Now based in Philadelphia), this visual commerce group offers consumer apps and visual search engines. The company now amalgamates a variety of acquired companies / technologies, including SnipSnap, Pounce and Craves.
    The company is utilising their universal scanner to offer a variety of solutions include Snap to buy, Snap from Catalogue, Snap to List, Snap to Coupon, and Coupon Author. Watch this space…

We are currently working on a comprehensive report, analysing the various offers and the most appropriate applications of these technologies. The report will be made available for FREE!

To be notified when our comprehensive report is available, please fill in your expression of interest in the comments below.

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