8 Reasons to Use Visual and Image-Based Search for Your Ecommerce Store

Irene Wanja Apr 04, 2023

Reading Time: 4 minutes

As an ecommerce store owner, your ultimate goal is to sell as many products as possible while ensuring a great shopping experience for your customers. To achieve this objective, it’s crucial to provide people with search and product filters that are easy to use and highly effective at helping them find what they need. In this regard, the use of visual and image-based search and product filters can provide numerous benefits compared to text-based filters. Let’s take a closer look!

ecommerce stores search bar magnifying glass image-search product-search

Speed and efficiency

First and foremost, visuals can convey information much more efficiently and effectively than text. Research conducted by neuroscientists from MIT has shown that our brains are wired to process visual information much faster than text. In fact, it takes only 13 milliseconds for the human brain to process an image. This means that visual or image-based search and product filters are much faster and more intuitive compared to one that relies on text alone. Using this method on your website can help customers quickly scan through products and filter options to find what they need without having to read through paragraphs of text.


The ecommerce industry is highly competitive, and customers expect the highest standards of service and quality. Providing clear, visually engaging filters helps customers easily identify products that meet their needs, which builds trust and confidence in a store and brand. Thoughtful implementation of this type of search capability conveys that a company is attentive to detail and cares about the shopping experience. 

A good example of a website that does a great job utilizing image filters is Zalando. When customers are shopping there, they have the option to choose even the shape of shoe or style of shirt by selecting one of the image filters provided.

ecommerce online store uses image search filters for shopping convenience

Image search filter from Zalando—helps users choose the kind of heel they are looking for to make their product search more fun and easily accessible.


Oftentimes, visual representations of products are more accurate and precise than text-based filters. For instance, a color filter that uses color swatches can be much more accurate than a text-based color filter that relies on color names. This is because different people have different perceptions of color names, which can lead to confusion and inaccurate filtering. In contrast, color swatches provide a precise representation of the color, eliminating any confusion and increasing accuracy in filtering results.

example of an ecommerce online store using color swatches as visual representation of products

Nordstrom uses both visual color swatches and text-based color to assist customers.

Inclusivity and accessibility

Another benefit of visual-based search is that it’s more inclusive and accessible to customers with different language and literacy levels. Text-based filters rely heavily on language and reading skills, making it difficult for those who speak different languages or have varying levels of literacy to use effectively. Visual-based filters, on the other hand, are more universally understood, regardless of a person’s reading or comprehension abilities.

Enhanced shopping experience

Image-based filters help enhance the customer experience by providing a more engaging and interactive shopping experience. They allow shoppers to interact with products in a more immersive way, increasing engagement and enjoyment of shopping on your website. For instance, a product filter that uses 360-degree images provides a much better experience compared to a text-based filter that only allows customers to select from dropdown options. 

Higher conversion rate

Implementing image-based search/filters on your ecommerce store can provide a significant boost to your overall conversion rate. This is because visual-based filters allow customers to find what they need quickly and easily, increasing their likelihood of making a purchase. A study conducted by Mediafly shows that there was a 94% increase in content views for companies using interactive content compared to the ones using static content.

person using an image-based search/filter feature on an ecommerce store, enhancing the user experience and conversion rate

Better visibility and ranking

Visual and image search capability can also help increase the visibility and search engine rankings of your ecom store. Reason being that visual content is highly engaging and shareable, which can drive more traffic to your site through social media and other channels. Moreover, this method can make your website more appealing to search engines (like Google), which prioritize sites with engaging visual content.

Internal analysis

Finally, visuals aren’t just useful for customers—they can also be crucial for ecommerce businesses in determining customer behavior and effectiveness of filters. By measuring user interaction and analyzing data, online store owners can obtain insights into which visuals and filter options work best, and the data can then be used for future decision-making, from design choices to product selection. Identifying which visuals and filters are most effective greatly helps to improve user experience, drive sales, and gain a competitive edge over others in the same niche or industry.


In conclusion, human beings are visual creatures—we are wired to process visual information more quickly and effectively than text. Leveraging this fact in your ecommerce business can improve not only the customer experience in a plethora of ways but also result in higher conversions, more effective data analysis, and a leg up on your competition. And based on the vast number of advantages outlined in this article, there’s no reason not to start using (and reaping the benefits of) visual and image-based search on your ecommerce store as soon as possible! 



Mediafly. “New Research Reveals 207% Spike in Digital Sales Content Consumption during the Pandemic, with Interactive Content Seeing a 94% Higher Increase in Engagement than Static Content.” Cision PR Newswire, 2022. Trafton, Anne. “In the Blink of an Eye.” MIT News | Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 2014, https://news.mit.edu/2014/in-the-blink-of-an-eye-0116.


About the author

Irene Wanja

Irene, a skilled Revenue Optimization Specialist for Build Grow Scale, combines an unparalleled focus on user research and a deep understanding of the ecommerce customer journey to orchestrate optimal shopping experiences. With an uncanny knack for detecting and addressing customer pain points through meticulous user testing, she utilizes tools such as moderated user tests, heatmaps, scrollmaps, and clickmaps to fast-track improvements in user experience and usability. Her keen eye for detail aids in swiftly spotting potential issues and implementing solutions, all while working closely with store owners and applying her intricate comprehension of user interactions. Passionate about software and technology, Irene immerses herself in enhancing her clients' business clarity, efficiency, and user satisfaction. Even though the value of user experience doesn't conform to a conventional numerical scale, the tangible outcomes of her work—improved user experience, amplified retention rates, and reduced customer support issues—are testaments to her prowess. Beyond her revenue optimization skills, Irene is a skilled writer and copywriter. She weaves her profound insights into engaging prose, crafting content that not only resonates with diverse audiences but also demystifies the complexities of user experience, consequently benefitting businesses worldwide.