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After I have seen Arek Skuza from Polish startup SaveUp pitching at the Startup Week Vienna in October this year, I thought “So, what’s the big deal about finding products on the web by taking their photos?” True, there are barcode and QR code reading apps, take Ebay or Amazon as an example. But having spoken to Skuza today, I have finally found the “wow-factor” of the technology backed by SpeedUp investment group from Poznan.
Granted, barcode scanning apps have been put to a good use by ecommerce giants such as Amazon and Ebay amongst others. But there are no barcodes attached to a freshly washed shirt, are there?
And who hasn’t been in a situation where one saw a gorgeous pair of shoes, a bag or an entire outfit which simply screamed “Buy me!”? Geeks are forgiven for their affirmative answer.
Now you can buy what you see on the street. Soon you will be able to use SaveUp (which should be called “SpendMore”) technology, which allows you to take a photo of a product with a smartphone and buy it with a single click. The company claims it can recognize 95 per cent of the images, including snapshots of shoes and T-shirts.
I am yet to see a demo of how well the technology can recognize apparel items on a person, but if it is the case, major online clothing and shoe stores should consider integrating this technology into their apps.
Imagine, a viral marketing app called something like “How much did she pay?” which allows users get an insight how much a girl has paid for her shoes by snapping her picture. Or, for more practical purpose: find an outfit you like and buy it for yourself. The problem will obviously occur if you want to tell a true Fendi bag from a fake one, but which technology is perfect?
Amazon photo recognition app has been reviewed by TechCrunch today. Ebay has already released photo recognition app last month, as reported here by British Daily Mail. So how is SaveUp going to take on the competition? In fact, SaveUp is only one application of the image recognition know-how developed by iTraff Technology, currently targeting sale of books, DVDs and video games in Poland. To go global iTraff plans to offer its image recognition as a white label app so that any ecommerce site could offer it to its customers.
Skuza still talks about books and CDs being a guy and maybe a geek, but I think they might be more successful if they concentrate on apparel recognition. Here is a piece of statistics I found on a website of Fits.me (Estonian company which reduces cost of returns and exchanges with robot-based fitting service). Last year global online apparel market was the largest segment of ecommerce industry, amounting to $31 billion, and this was only 9% of the total retail sales of clothes. As a consumer and someone who buys clothes exclusively on the Internet, I can confirm that such an app would be useful since I only shop at a small number of online stores.
Amazon and Ebay are not the best places to buy clothes, in my humble opinion. But the Asos, Zappos and Zalandos of this world could definitely offer such app to their clients, while integration with Polyvore or Shopstyle would allow not only to search for the same garment, but also for similar looking ones currently available in online stores.
P.S. I am not a corporate identity designer, so please forgive my pun at the name. But I do think the team should rename the business to something entirely different.
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vita at goaleurope dot com