Walmart is testing its internal visual search technology through Hayneedle, the home furniture retailer that acquired it by acquiring Jet.com in 2016.
New technology was slowly introduced on Hayneedle over the past year. Customers simply acquire a picture of a piece of furniture they are thinking of buying by taking a picture of someone's home, a retail showroom, or even a magazine page. The application then uses the image to find similar products on the Hayneedle site.
"We are constantly focused on improving the customer experience," said Shelley Huff, vice president of Home, Wal-Mart e-commerce and president of Hayneedle, according to sources. "I think this in the home industry is not only a big challenge with the breadth of product offerings and the fact that most customers do not know what they're looking for in terms of home furniture.
"If we look at how to enable this shopping experience … and give them more confidence in their purchases and their ability to find products, visual search plays a great role," Hoff said.
The team at Walmart Labs worked on the automated learning parts of the new program, while Hayneedle presented its own product catalog site, in addition to training the system and integrating the technology with its own site. The head of engineering at Hayneedle, Benjamin Dekarske, says collaboration with Walmart Labs has been beneficial to both sides.
"We do not have the core technology specialists owned by Walmart with Labs, and Walmart acquires a Hayneedle platform [for visual search] To the extent that they do not need to expand the scale of Walmart, they can experiment with Hayneedle scale, then learn from them and grow from there. "
This was the first time Walmart Labs had worked directly with one of the acquisitions by the retail giant to develop new technology.