Mobile search company expands relationship with leading U.S. retailer
Chris Powell August 28, 2015
Toronto start-up Slyce, which uses visual search to drive mobile transactions, is expanding its year-long relationship with leading U.S. retailer Neiman Marcus, which uses the company’s technology in its “Snap. Find. Shop” mobile tool.
The luxury goods retailer announced this week that it is expanding the program, which launched with women’s shoes and purses in March 2014, to include its entire product assortment.
Wanda Gierhart, chief marketing officer for Neiman Marcus Group, declined to provide specifics on how customers are using the technology, but said it is addressing a key customer need.
“We know that our customer leads a very busy lifestyle,” said Gierhart via email. “She relies on us to provide ways to allow her to shop any time she wants from any place.”
Established last year, Slyce enables users to take a photograph of any real-world item using their mobile device and be presented with comparable products from retail partners they can then purchase directly from their phone.
In addition to its own direct-to-consumer app Pounce, which boasts 25 retail partners including Best Buy, Amazon and eBay, Slyce provides white label solutions to retail partners including Neiman Marcus, The Home Depot, JC Penney and Toys R Us.
The technology uses up to 30 different attributes to match a user’s photo with images of millions of items in its database. A women’s purse, for example, could be matched by factors including product type, colour, texture and the size of the strap or buckles. The technology is said to be 95% accurate.
“It’s quite an exciting, magical and enticing experience, where you can act on a moment of inspiration that brings you to gratification,” said Slyce’s Minneapolis-based CEO Mark Elfenbein, who predicted the majority of product searches would ultimately be conducted via image submission.
“To try and describe a complex pattern in a men’s jacket, you could never do it via [traditional text] search,” he said. “If you snap a picture of it, we can basically find that reference match or something very close, it’s a much better user experience.”
Slyce’s technology is currently in the hands of approximately 12 million people (a combination of Pounce users and people using retailer apps featuring the technology) with Elfenbein saying retail partners are seeing “thousands” of product searches per day. He did not specify how many searches resulted in a transaction.
“Retailers have gravitated to it because they see it as a way to generate transactions with customers even when they’re not physically in their store or even on their website,” he said. “It’s very important to these brands to have some sort of interaction with customers at any point.”
The company has a dual revenue stream: It generates money via Pounce by taking a cut of every transaction, while on the business-to-business side it generates revenue through recurring monthly software licensing fees. The latter comprises the bulk of Slyce’s revenues, said Elfenbein.
The company currently employs 90 people, with offices in Toronto, Minneapolis and Philadelphia. It also has an eight-person R&D operation in Tel Aviv, Israel, which Elfenbein said has emerged as a leading hub of visual search development.