7 Computer Vision Use Cases in E-Commerce for 2024

April 4, 2024
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Modern technologies are transforming the way people shop online by influencing their purchase decisions. With 88% of customers attributing product images to a great shopping experience, the use cases of computer vision in e-commerce continue to grow.

Computer vision allows retailers to provide buyers with new ways to search for products. Simultaneously, sellers can leverage automated inventory management, quality control, and much more. The technology is a form of artificial intelligence and works by deriving meaning from digital images just like humans - sometimes even better. It replicates the way we visualize products and performs image recognition, distinction, and classification using AI.

In this post, we discuss 7 computer vision use cases in e-commerce. Read on to find out how cutting-edge AI technology is reshaping the digital landscape.

The Role of Computer Vision in E-commerce

Customer expectations are changing, and so are retail businesses. The industry now recognizes the need for displaying interactive content in the form of product images and descriptions to improve the customer experience.

Computer vision is mostly dependent on high-quality images uploaded by sellers and customers on the internet. Digital marketplaces use it to match the items a customer searches for - and quickly provide them with the right results. Not only that, but computer vision also helps verify the uploaded images to determine the quality of the product in question. As a result, shoppers can feel secure knowing that the platform is offering the right products. 

The use of AI makes product search a breeze as you can display images dynamically to deliver an exceptional retail experience. You can automate repetitive tasks and save money. As AI enables computers to see and perceive images like humans, online shopping will become much more convenient in 2024. It improves engagement and you can have more loyal customers. 

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Use Cases of Computer Vision in E-Commerce

Visual Search Capabilities

Up until a few years ago, online shopping started with a text-based search query. Users had to go through a lot of products to find what they wanted. However, the introduction of AI technology has changed that. Visual search is one of the biggest leaps we have seen thanks to computer vision in e-commerce. It is an entirely new way of searching for products online. 

Visual Search Capabilities

Amazon’s Shop the Look interface

Users can simply upload a photo of the product they want to buy, and AI brings up all the relevant items in the store. A survey showed that 62% of Gen Z and Millenial customers in the UK and US want visual search capabilities in their online shopping journeys.

Even though it might not have made its way into all e-commerce stores yet, those who have experienced it do vouch for it. Amazon and eBay are two big names that leverage computer vision for visual search. Amazon’s StyleSnap provides the best-matched results for products when users upload a photo, and eBay customers can also search among 1.1 billion products using photos instead of text-based queries.

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Automated Inventory Management

Inventory management is something that every retailer wants to ace. However, the days of manual inventory counts and stock management are over. Since your customers expect swift delivery within a day, you need to be on top of your inventory game at all times. 

Here, computer vision helps you meet customer demands and maximize your sales. It allows you to analyze visual data from your inventory and order stock accordingly. The visual analysis helps you stay ahead of the curve by maintaining a steady stock level. Whenever a new order is placed, you don’t have to keep your customer waiting. You don’t have to worry about running out of stock or overstocking your warehouse. 

Automated inventory management with computer vision helps create a seamless shopping journey. Neither do you miss any sales opportunities, nor do your customers face any delays. Automating the inventory management process also streamlines replenishment operations to ensure that popular products are always in stock.

Augmented Reality Shopping

In retail, augmented reality shopping has taken the e-commerce experience to a whole new level. AR with computer vision goes beyond virtual try-on experiences to completely transform the way customers view their products. 

In augmented reality, computer vision recognizes objects in visual data through object detection. It uses object tracking to understand movements and count objects, and Simultaneous localization and mapping (SLAM) to localize an AI bot on a map. These complex processes collectively make up the immersive shopping experience we see on AR shopping apps.

Augmented Reality Shopping

Features like augmented product displays and virtual showrooms make it easier for customers to understand what they are paying for. They can explore the product in detail, compare the different options, and even take a virtual walk-through of the store.

Computer vision in AR also provides you with valuable insights into customers’ preferences. By incorporating AR into your e-commerce store, you can create a dynamic shopping environment and enhance the customer experience.  

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Quality Control and Inspection

Businesses in the retail industry compete on various fronts, but nothing beats quality products. When it comes to fashion, electronics, or other products that are assessed by visual characteristics, you need to ensure quality standards. 

Thankfully, quality control is another use case of computer vision in e-commerce. Here, computer vision is used for visual inspection of products at different stages of the supply chain. You can incorporate it at the manufacturing phase, the distribution phase, and when the product reaches your store shelves.

The quality control process involves computer vision algorithms that detect imperfections or defects in products. They perform visual inspection and compare products to a set standard to determine whether they meet the quality requirements. 

Incorporating computer vision for quality control allows you to improve customer satisfaction and lower your return rates. When customers get the same quality of products from your brand, they begin to trust it and become loyal customers.

Customer Behavior Analysis

Moving on, here is another important use case of computer vision in e-commerce. In retail, customer behavior analysis is the key to improving the customer experience. The more you know about your customer's preferences, the better you can assist them. 

In this use case, computer vision analyzes customer data to provide you with valuable insights to understand their shopping behavior. Integrating this technology into your e-commerce platform allows you to track customer activity across the store and understand how they interact with each aspect of your store. 

This includes product pages, the checkout page, the homepage, and more. However, computer vision is not limited to your online store only. In the physical store, it uses heat map technology to detect real-time movements and assign colors based on traffic volume. This helps retailers understand which sections of the store are more crowded and how they can optimize product placement, store layout, and more.

Shipment and Logistics Optimization

The last stages of the supply chain are the most crucial for retailers, as they can make or break customer trust. In shipment and logistics, computer vision is used to extract data from package labels and detect damages to parcels. It helps quickly identify and sort parcels depending on your business constraints. 

The AI system can sort by size, destination address, shape, or category of products. You can track packages in real-time within your store and while they are on their way to the customer. Real-time tracking with computer vision helps eliminate instances of misplaced items. 

Moreover, the technology helps you automate and simplify various operations in the dispatching and shipment of products. On a larger scale, computer vision can monitor activities on ports to detect suspicious activities that lead to misplaced parcels. 

Product Recommendations

Product recommendations are one of the best ways to engage customers online. Every time a shopper visits your e-commerce store, they see products on the homepage before they even begin their search. Computer vision makes this possible by analyzing the users’ search history, items they’ve previously purchased, and similar data from millions of other users.

According to a survey, 91% of customers are more likely to shop with brands that remember their shopping history and provide relevant suggestions.

In the e-commerce use case, computer vision algorithms process large volumes of user data to provide accurate personalized recommendations. As a result, your customers feel that your brand takes care of their preferences and displays highly relevant content. Finding the right products on the homepage of an online store also means that customers have to spend less time searching. 

With the help of pattern-matching algorithms, computer vision analyzes customers’ online journeys to determine the key areas where they might need helpful suggestions. Sometimes, users simply browse through your store without the intention of buying anything. Here, you can convert them into customers with the right product recommendations. Not only that, but these kinds of suggestions can also help upsell and cross-sell slow-moving items.

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Benefits of Computer Vision in E-Commerce

Beyond the common use cases, computer vision exceeds expectations to deliver an enhanced customer experience. Starting from product classification based on visual attributes, and going towards predictive analytics, the technology has transformed e-commerce for the better.

  • Brand detection

Computer vision utilizes advanced algorithms and machine-learning techniques to identify retail brands in images and videos. 

  • Effective market analysis

With the help of visual detection, brands can understand the popularity of a given product in the market and restrategize.

  • Predictive Analytics

The technology analyzes customer behaviors and preferences to create and display personalized product recommendations.

  • Enhanced customer experience

Your customers can find their products by uploading images and don’t have to go through a long list of products to find what they need.

  • Operational efficiency

Computer vision helps identify efficient routes for the supply chain and makes it easier for you to manage your e-commerce operations.

  • Security

With fraud detection capabilities, computer vision helps eliminate the risk of misplaced items, unscanned items, and employee theft.

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Embracing the Future of E-Commerce

Computer vision and the other subsets of AI have quickly become a necessity in the e-commerce landscape. With customers expecting a smooth omnichannel shopping experience, the applications of computer vision seem to be increasing quickly. In the retail sector, the technology has already automated checkouts, monitored queues, and analyzed foot traffic.

The buzzing technology has come out of the research phase to become a highly useful e-commerce tool. While there is no comparison between an AI-based system and a manual process, the benefits of computer vision in e-commerce retailers are too obvious to ignore.

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