Decorating a new home or renovating an existing place is not an easy task, to say the least. What usually starts off as a journey towards creating a dream living space soon becomes an insurmountable challenge. Often because the process turns out to be more expensive, time consuming and tiring than anticipated. While expenses and budgets as a challenge are easy to understand, other complexities involved in the process that makes it time consuming (or plain annoying) may not be as straightforward. For example, most people often don’t have a design background or might not know a way to interpret their imagination into actual products they can purchase. How does one tell if the chair they saw in the magazine and loved, is an Adirondack chair or an Aeron? Afterall, a quick google search throws results such as 22 popular types of chairs to make your home look stylish. 22! Even if one has the superpower of knowing all types of furniture and furnishing by name, how do they go about finding it?
As a result, the hours spent on Pinterest and other sites finding inspiration end up feeling like a waste as there often is no way to find home decor and furniture products that we like.
The Business Opportunity
Businesses in the home living space are well aware of these challenges and are on the lookout for solutions. The market is expected to garner $664 Billion by 2020 and ensuring that consumers can find what they're inspired to buy is quite naturally amongst the top priorities. The growth in this industry is driven by a multitude of reasons that include improvements in disposable incomes, lifestyle and increased urbanization.
Top Factors Impacting World Home Decor Market
Computer Vision to the rescue!
One of the major challenges we highlighted above is essentially the problem of search and discovery - a challenge that's well known throughout the online commerce industry.
The problem of search is the shoppers' inability to find products because they are essentially impossible to describe via text. These are products that shoppers are already inspired to buy, but failure to find these result in lost revenue for retailers. Take for example the picture below. It's a chair that's kept at the reception of ViSenze' Singapore head office. Multi-colored, multi-pattern and very hard to describe in words. Don't believe us? Try searching it yourself, on a website or app of your choice!
We tried searching for something similar via text search as well. In this case, we tried to find it via text on Hipvan, one of Singapore's leading furniture retailers and a ViSenze client.
Below are results based on four different Text Search phrases.
Text search results for four different text phrases
Now, let's look at Visual Search results for the same chair on the same app
Visual Search Results - Bingo!
The example highlighted above clearly shows the search and discovery problem that currently plagues the online furniture and home decor market. Moreover, the same example also shows how recent advances in artificial intelligence and computer vision are helping solve some of these challenges. By implementing visual search on its app, Hipvan was able to solve the challenge of search and discovery. And as a result, the fast growing company saw an increase of 121% in engagement and noticed that shoppers who used an image to search for an item, were 2.7x more likely to buy it!
There are many applications of AI and computer vision for the rapidly growing online furniture industry. Spanning from search to recommendations and product tagging, and all of these are critical to solve problems that will help break barriers related to user engagement and conversion.
To help show how AI can help solve some of these challenges, we created a demo website, specifically keeping the online furniture industry in mind.