The search experience for mobile shoppers with a specific point-of-view might have gotten a bit simpler.
Today, Donde Fashion launches a mobile search engine that lets shoppers use visual cues to find items. So, rather than typing text-based search terms — which puts the burden on the shopper to use the right words, and the burden on the retailer to tag or label the item as such — it streamlines the search process using simple illustrations. Most services that feature what is called “visual search” capabilities require a photo provided by the user, but Donde doesn’t require the shopper to have an image.
The iOS app sorts through more than 6,000 brands and retailers for women’s clothing, shoes and bags, using illustrations of an item’s silhouette and letting shoppers narrow by details like color, length, neckline, pattern or price as they go. Shoppers can browse, share, favorite and buy directly through the app, and Donde takes a commission of the sales. Cofounder Liat Zakay says that the service uses artificial intelligence technology to identify key features of the items.
Donde was a favorite at TechCrunch’s Startup Battlefield in 2014, when the app was in beta, and is based in San Francisco and Israel. Donde has received a small amount of angel funding and has spent time at accelerator UpWest Labs.
This launch comes on the heels of the release of other technologies that boast visual search. Last week, the Pounce app came to Android after launching on iOS in November; it provides a 3-D and 2-D search of a range of items (like home decor and toys) based on images provided by the user. In July, luxury retail visual search and shop app Craves launched, aimed at high-end fashion consumers. Both are powered by Slyce, whose technology is also utilized by stores like Neiman Marcus and J.C. Penney to embed in their own apps. In May, Slyce closed $8.7 million in funding, bringing the total investment in Slyce to more than $36 million.
This “Shazam of fashion” approach is also something seen from the U.K.’s Cortexica, which powers Macy’s and Net-a-porter’s visual search apps. Amazon’s Fire Phone, which launched last June, includes a visual search function that finds objects on Amazon. Kate Bosworth’s Style Thief is another similar recent launch.
With these mobile apps, and the popularity of Pinterest, the power of the image to replace text in searches only stands to gain ground. And with launches like Donde, Craves and Pounce, shoppers are able to expand their search beyond specific retailers.