Shopping in Singapore - specifically, Orchard Road - is getting "kind of boring." At least, that's what a 17-year-old told the Straits Times recently.
I suspect that many from the millennial generation and beyond feel the same way. Even retailers themselves are beginning to sense the ground moving under their feet, and are actively shifting more and more of their operations online.
That being said, most can agree that there are certain aspects of the shopping experience that get lost on the web (or mobile). Sizes, for example, are always tricky to estimate. Many horror stories of people receiving items that turn out to be way too big or small for them have surfaced over the years.
Many companies are working hard to help ease our transition from offline to online shopping. Singapore-based ViSenze, which builds visual search and image recognition software, is one of them. And they're making serious waves - some of their biggest clients include Uniqlo, Rakuten, Asos, and Lazada.
Improving online shopping
The technology developed by ViSenze, co-founder and CTO Li Guangda tells me, is transforming shopping experiences across the web in different ways. One of the more visible ways is by enabling consumers to search for products simply by snapping an image.
"A shopper can upload an image to a ViSenze powered ecommerce site to search for products featured in that image in real-time," he explains. "As compared to searching by text, search by image is far more effective, and lets consumers find visually similar products."
Ecommerce companies are also using ViSenze solutions to power their product recommendations engine, or to automatically tag their entire product libraries based on visual attributes. This helps to improve "product discoverability and conversions for online retailers."
"Our latest offering, a visual commerce platform, helps online publishers by detecting products shown in images and videos," Guangda adds. "From there, it connects audiences with the respective online stores to make the purchase."
In other words, contextual advertising in both image and video content.
How were they able to develop this technology? Simply put, it was a "combination of deep learning and computer vision."
"Over the past few years, we've developed algorithms that can accurately and consistently analyze images and videos to transform online experiences," elaborates Guangda.
He attributes their success in these areas to ViSenze's research and engineering team, which has grown dramatically in the past few years, and consist some of the "brightest minds in the field of computer vision and machine learning." PhDs are a common sight in this team, and they work on multiple projects at each time:
"We're continuously experimenting with our algorithms and training models to improve performance. Some of the most interesting projects currently underway are those related to problems that have not yet been solved. For these, we're working with leading brands in North America and Europe."
Having raised a hefty US$10.5 million in funding late last year, I was curious to know where this cash was being channeled towards.
Not surprisingly, hiring more talent to beef up their R&D team is a core focus for Guangda right now - there are several opportunities both in ViSenze's US and Singapore offices. "Given computer vision and machine learning are evolving rapidly, there are always interesting problems to solve," he says.
Besides the two aforementioned offices, ViSenze also has recently established a presence in the UK, China, and India.
"We're also investing in our marketing and go-to-market strategies," Guangda adds.
The future of ecommerce
It's clear that ViSenze is pushing the boundaries of online shopping. Guangda believes that, in the near future, ecommerce will be "merged inextricably with content, and inseparable from the larger social community."
In other words, shopping websites or apps won't be the primary destinations to buy things anymore. The lines between web content consumption, social interactions, and shopping, he explains, will fade away.
Naturally, Guangda believes that ViSenze will be the "powerful AI engine fusing all of these elements together."
"Our higher mission is to simplify the way people search and discover the visual world."
ViSenze is one of several leading technology companies hiring technical talent on 100offer's marketplace. Check out what opportunities there are in the market over here: