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: Google Lens feature adds text to make online shopping more specific

Google introduced an enhancement to its Lens tool on Thursday that will help shoppers navigate the vast options across the internet and get very specific about what they’re looking to buy.

The enhancement adds text to an image search. So if a shopper has a picture of a green sweater that they’re interested in, but would prefer it in white, the search can be tweaked using words to display the options in the desired color.

The enhancement comes after a pandemic period in which shoppers flocked to e-commerce, accelerating a trend that had been in growing even before COVID-19. E-commerce sales are expected to reach $1 trillion for the first time in 2022 and will top $1.6 trillion by 2025, according to eMarketer data. Shopping on mobile devices is also expected to continue growing during that period.

See: Retail sales to slow in 2022 due to inflation and other disruptions but reach nearly $5 trillion: NRF

Google
GOOG,
-0.69%

GOOGL,
-0.60%

has steadily introduced new shopping tools over the past couple of years, including the launch of the Google Lens tool and a function that allows shoppers to search in-stock inventory at nearby stores, both in September 2021.

In 2020, the tech giant launched an augmented reality (AR) tool that shows users what makeup will look like once it’s applied.

Cowen analysts who attended the recent ShopTalk conference in Las Vegas last month talked at length in recent notes about the growing importance of hi-tech tools like artificial intelligence (AI), NFTs and livestreaming in the retail and consumer industries. These tools help companies pinpoint with greater accuracy what a customer is looking for, which is ultimately more likely to lead to a sale. And by collecting consumer data, companies can better personalize the types of items, promotions and experiences a shopper will positively respond to.

Also: Here’s how retailers are tackling the delivery challenges that come with skyrocketing e-commerce sales post-COVID

“Retailers and brands with first-party data can drive future interactions based on insights gained from previous customer interactions and offer creative engagement tools, such as buying quizzes and guides,” Cowen wrote in a note published Wednesday.

“Data and AI also play an important role in merchandising, inventory and supply
chain management, promotions, and pricing, and retailers who are leaders in harnessing data and differentiating the customer experience are gaining mind and wallet shares, in our view.”

It’s not just tech giants like Google using these sorts of technologies. Retailers and consumer companies, from Walmart Inc.
WMT,
+0.15%

to Nike Inc.
NKE,
-0.61%
,
are using these advanced tools across their businesses.

Shares of Google parent Alphabet Inc. are down 6% for the year to date, but have gained nearly 21% over the past year.

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