West Elm Launches Visual Search Tool on Pinterest

The artificial intelligence tool quickly “learns” an individual’s style preferences
July 13, 2017Allison Zisko

Pinterest x West Elm Style FinderThe Pinterest x West Elm Style Finder
NEW YORK—West Elm is employing a new image recognition search function on its Pinterest page that enables shoppers to paste pictures seen on Pinterest and “translate” them into products for sale on West Elm’s website.

Using the Pinterest x West Elm Style Finder, one can choose a Pinterest board that best represents his or her style, paste a link from any public board, and receive recommendations from West Elm for products that resemble that particular look.

The artificial intelligence tool uses a neural network to quickly “learn” an individual’s style preferences. “We let the neural networks decide,” Matt Zeiler, founder and CEO of Clarifai, the AI company that created the program, told Fast Company. “It’s not hand-tuned algorithms, for [example]: You might like this color, or you might like this pattern, or you might like this type of chair. It’s really high-level understanding based on the collection of pictures.”

Although only 12 percent of Pinterest users have purchased a product on Pinterest, another 50 percent of its users have at least considered making a purchase on the site, according to an eMarketer article citing data from a study by investment firm SharesPost. Yet, until recently, “Pinterest hadn’t courted advertisers like some of the other platforms,” according to eMarketer Senior Analyst Krista Garcia. eMarketer estimates that Pinterest currently has 69 million users and its base is expected to grow more than 9 percent this year.

In May, Wayfair Inc. launched a Search with Photo feature that helps shoppers find and purchase furnishings by matching pictures of products they see and like with items from Wayfair’s product inventory.

Allison ZiskoAllison Zisko | Managing Editor/Tabletop Editor

After 15 years of covering the tabletop industry, Allison Zisko is still as enthusiastic as ever about the dinnerware, glassware and flatware categories. An in-depth analysis of how the category works intrigues her just as much as the latest fashion trends. As managing editor, Allison oversees the daily e-newsletter and works behind the scenes to help produce the print issue each month. She also directs HFN’s housewares coverage and covers the cutlery category. An avid reader, Allison is eager to talk to anyone and everyone about the latest book they are reading.

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