Tech Bytes from Retail & Tech No 18

The latest tech news to inform and inspire

  • Google expands product discovery. Google has introduced a new feature to help consumers find products using visual search. When users tap and hold an image, Google’s Lens technology will find the exact same or similar items and suggest ways to wear or use it. Google’s Lens feature already allows users to search for products online by taking a photo or screenshot in real time, but this new addition allows shoppers to look for products they find while scrolling on their phone, in addition to ideas on how the product can be used.


  • Instagram communications. Facebook has begun beta testing messenger updates that will allow companies to integrate Instagram messages into their business applications to help them respond more quickly to customers’ questions. The update, called Messenger API, means companies can use a single platform to respond immediately to messages received throughout Instagram, whether it be on Profile, Shops or Stories. The update also includes an option for businesses to respond to frequently asked questions using automation. Messenger API is currently in beta with a limited number of brands, including Sephora and Glossier.  Last year, total daily conversations between people and businesses on Messenger and Instagram grew over 40%, according to Facebook.


  • Advertising control. TikTok is looking to give advertisers more control over their ads on the short-video social-media platform. It has partnered with analytics firm OpenSlate to verify and filter content and categories that appear next to branded ads and content, essentially allowing brands to know and track where their ads are running. The move comes after other social-media platforms have been lambasted for hateful content on their platforms, which saw brands pull their advertising. The initiative is also seen as a way of increasing the attractiveness of TikTok in the US, given continued uncertainty about the platform’s future there.


  • Fragrance heroes. UK-based retailer The Fragrance Shop is the latest cosmetics and fragrance player to partner with technology platform Hero for the launch of virtual services. Using Hero, online shoppers can communicate with the retailer’s store associates either through text, chat or video call. The platform also enables the retailer to see what products customers are browsing in real-time and provides visibility on stock online, as well as in-store. Additionally, The Fragrance Shop store teams can schedule in-person appointments with customers and organize contactless curbside pick-up. Store staff can also stay in touch with shoppers post-purchase via text to share new product releases, recommend complementary items or notify customers when a product is back in stock.


  • Paying for data. In a bid to come up with better products and make its ads more relevant, Amazon is to pay consumers to share information about their purchases made outside the online retailer. The company has launched an invitation-only program called Amazon Shopper Panel that offers consumers either money on their Amazon balance or a donation to a charity in exchange for filling out surveys and providing data on what they have shopped.