According to the latest figures, there are more than 1 billion people accessing the web with a smartphone or mobile device, and of course retailers can hope to catch the attention of shoppers, by making it much easier to purchase things.
A Toronto start-up may have an edge with technology that allows smartphone users to snap a picture of an item while inside the store , and bill them automatically for the purchase before they leave. The concept is very much like the App Shazam, that recognizes music and directs to sites for downloading.
The start-up known as Slyce has already raised more than $14.5 million in funding to further research and product development. The product is aimed primarily at retailers who can use it in their direct marketing campaigns, according to chief digital officer Mark Elfenbein.
Using what is called visual search technology, and the ubiquitous cameras that are now in almost every smartphone, shoppers will be able to snap a photo of any item, any where, and with the app embedded in the smartphone, it matches the photo to the item, or similar it that the retailer sells and redirects the user to a page with the option to purchase. The retailer can take note of your interest.
The product appears to be one of those disruptive technology that changes the way we shop. Elfenbein, says that the company is already in negotiations with 6 of the biggest retailers in the US, and expects to them to have apps available in the third quarter of 2014. A Desktop version are also available, and retailers will likely be making the app available for use on both Android and iOs mobile platforms.
The software around which the Slyce app is built identifies the item, and all of its attributes and provides a perfect match, by rapidly scanning the database of the retailer. It also provides a list of items that are similar. Mr Elfenbein says that the heart of the software has been based on technology provided by image recognition companies that the start-up has purchased.
The Slyce app opens a new data stream for the retailers who are now able to tell which items are being photographed the most. Shoppers can use it for number of different purposes, such as compiling wish lists, or building registries, that can easily be shared with others.
Slyce which was formed in early 2012 is poised for rapid growth, and number of employees is expected to double to more than 50 sometime this year, as the acquisition of Toronto based Hovr.it, is completed. The plans are to continue to expand the number of retailers, while the company looks at more companies involved in the nascent field visual search .There is also an API that has been made available to developers, so that much more is expected of Slyce in the future, as shopping become truly disruptive and mcommerce continues the torrid growth pace.