newBusinessMany studies have shown that humans are visual by nature and can process and understand visuals faster than written text. According to Hubspot, for instance, 90% of information transmitted to the brain is visual and visual information is processed 60,000 times faster than text. Most probably, that basic fact will power the evolving business field of visual search and shopping, which is the area of work the visual search start-up, iQNECT, is active in.

Asian eMarketing recently met with Niamh Byrne, iQNECT’s Chief Operating Officer, for an interview at their Singapore office. The seasoned international marketer gained her expertise in the mobile telecom and technology sectors, and is since January in charge of iQNECT’s development and execution of the go-to-market strategy.

While getting a demonstration of iQNECT’s portfolio of technologies, it quickly became clear why visual search technology marks the next revolution in search, as it both anticipates and accommodates the changing needs of searchers and consumers who increasingly rely on mobile technology for searching and shopping.

Visual search technology offers businesses a means of gaining a competitive edge to increase sales and revenue while optimizing the customer service experience. It has a number of appealing benefits, such as drastically reducing a shopper’s research time and providing more accuracy and intimacy of search and shopping, acting as a shop assistant and conversion tool that secures impulse buying, besides delivering businesses additional insight into what searchers and potential customers are looking for that can in turn be used to drive brand loyalty.

Not only once, while listening to Niamh, I thought science fiction finally seems to become reality. At least I am convinced, that iQNECT’s services will cause quite a stir when its full mCommerce platform will be publicly available mid-November 2015. The visual search start-up will definitely change consumers’ buying experience forever when their services go mainstream.

The company just started a partnership with Thai Creative and Engagement agency C True to introduce its image recognition and mCommerce capabilities. Now, two leading Thai magazines and four international titles will make use of iQNECT’s “visual search” app that enables readers to access interactive digital content simply by taking a picture of any page’s images with their smartphone, which then instantly shows content like videos, invitations, exclusive digital offers or coupons – and most importantly, the option to buy the item photographed on the spot without having to go to a website or store.

“Well, so much for the prediction that ‘print is dead”. Niamh Byrne explained: “We challenge the belief that print is a dying medium. Visual search acts as a bridge between the sumptuous tactility of print media and the instant responsiveness of mCommerce. The technology enhances readers’ magazine experience by instantaneously connecting them with content and mCommerce options that relate exactly to what they’re reading. For publishers and brands, that means the point of inspiration and point of sale can now be virtually indistinguishable – dramatically lowering drop-off rates and raising the ROI of any creative campaign.”
Besides the mentioned range of applications, marketers could drive additional value from existing media materials like packaging, POS materials, outdoor and print ads to screen and web-based ad campaigns, whilst delivering consumers compelling and engaging content, such as exclusive videos, coupons, invitations or any other content that works for brand.

In fact, iQNECT’s app even provides ways to deepen engagement with readers, including augmented reality capabilities that let users virtually “try on” products by viewing real-world items through their smartphone screen. Publishers, such as e.g. C True, can use this technology to add huge value for advertisers, who traditionally had no way to directly or instantly convert a reader’s product interest into a purchase.
Niamh presented a kind of instantly shop-able world during our session, where in the future every product around you can be monetized and accessed in a 3-step customer journey – “Point, Snap and Pay”.
Once the iQNECT app has been downloaded, the user simply takes a photo of a product or advertisement using iQNECT’s in-app camera. This releases an immediate response from their servers, which sends the campaign message or call-to-action the brand has chosen directly to the consumers’ handset.howit
In addition, augmented reality (AR) experiences can be embedded in-app and triggered to the handset when the consumer snaps a photo of an image, a product or a screen, which provides brands with an additional level of engagement. Not to mention that iQNECT intuitive campaign management dashboard is attractive to marketers since it provides them with everything they need to upload, manage, execute and review their campaign data analytics and performance, as it happens. iQNECT clearly demonstrates that visual search technology is now sophisticated and reliable enough to satisfy consumer expectations, offering brands and retailers unbelievable opportunities.

Niamh illustrates: “Imagine walking down the street and seeing someone wearing a t-shirt you like or you are watching Kim Kardashians on TV wearing a jacket you absolutely adore. With visual search and mobile technology, you can snap a photo of the passerby or make a shot of the TV screen and within seconds have the results from various Internet retailers who offer that exact or similar style t-shirt or jacket. At that moment, the chances are high that the initial inspiration leads to an immediate purchase.”

Just considering that the millennial generation is entering the workforce now and will have more purchasing power soon, marketers have to adapt their campaign to the emerging target group that relies heavily on mobile devices for search and shopping. Anyway, things are looking rosy for iQNECT and early adopters of their technology, who will most probably be met with early rewards. Fact is that those companies that offer seamless and simple shopping experiences will rise to market dominance and that it is only a matter of time until visual search technology is broadly implemented across the internet. Therefore, embrace the amazing technology you have at your fingertips to master the tremendous amount of upheaval that shakes our increasingly customer-centric marketing world constantly.

By Daniela La Marca