Pinterest Integrates “Visual Search” To Attract Users and Improve Performance

pinterest hacks features

Social media site, Pinterest, is the home of DIYs, engaging infographics and helpful life hacks. Whether you’re getting decor ideas, baby name suggestions or tips for turning red crayons into a flawless lip stain, this site has got you pinned (get it?). Now they are getting an upper hand when it comes to usability.

As of November 9th, Pinterest will allow users to search with pictures rather than words. karlie kloss fashion model For example, say you are looking at Victoria’s Secret model Karlie Kloss’s Instagram feed. You love her designer boots, but she doesn’t include a link to where to buy them. Simply take that image and search it on Pinterest. You’ll discover they are Marc Fisher boots and they are available at Nordstrom. You’ll also find cheaper dupes on Ebay, DIY tips to keeping your boots polished with coconut oil and ways to pair those boots with any outfit. (***Coconut oil is not a verified polish for boots, use at your own risk)marc fisher boot nordstrom

It is predicted that keywords have seen better days and that many searches will be moving towards an image-based setup in the coming years. Controversially, this strategy benefits advertisers and focuses on purchases rather than really honing in on the needs of users. It is speculated that this might be a move for Pinterest it gain more revenue from companies as apposed to catering to their existing Pinners. In fact, some Pinners might be unhappy with this new feature or simply avoid it because of its encouragement towards making purchases.

Only time will tell how users will respond to this new integration. If you are a dedicated Pinner, would you respond positively or negatively to this feature?

Samsung Smart TV Has Built-In Eavesdropping Feature

Tech company Samsung has optimized the television to eliminate all those pain-staking TV watching processes. Searching for the remote, scrolling, pushing buttons – they will all soon become archaic concepts thanks to Internet integrated Smart TVs. samsung-smart-tv-like-my-hip-600-90056Voice recognition, similar to Siri and Google Voice, aids you in your viewership. The curved HD screens are equipped with this intelligent function to help keep you satiated with entertainment, but it includes a sneaky feature not many of us would be apt to find.

The Smart TVs can record our living room conversations and transmit data gleaned from them to third parties, so the fine print states. Samsung explains that the “third party” is a company called Nuance that specializes in voice recognition.

We live in a time when interactive electronics are a part of every day life. You can chat with your car, your phone and even your fridge. Smart-Home-AppliancesAnd data collection is something that doesn’t deter many of us. Has a targeted ad on your Facebook newsfeed ever freaked you out enough to deactivate your account? Probably not. So why is my TV listening to me sing along to Grammy’s on a quiet Sunday evening any more disturbing?

For some, the feature definitely has a high creep-out factor. The company compares the listening in feature to a tech support call being recorded for “training purposes”. In essence it is nothing like that, as tech support doesn’t stay on the line and casually listen to you go about your life for a the couple of hours following the call.

The good news for consumers of the Smart TV – the feature can be turned off. It also gives you clear warning when it is listening with a little microphone popping up on the screen. The feature is also typically  activated when the TV hears a familiar command such as “Hello TV!” (I have a hard time picturing myself saying that to an electronic, ever) and the rest of the time it is not paying too much attention.

In my personal opinion, The Smart TV is bringing us one step closer to BeFunky_marge.jpgThe Simpsons Treehouse of Horror XII, in which Marge falls in love with the charming voice of the computerized Ultrahouse system. And it starts with us greeting our televisions.

Cutting out customer service

cashWe are coming in to an age where transactions are less full serve and more self serve. It seems for years now that stores are cutting out snippets of services that were once standard to the buying process. As a veteran cashier at a supermarket, I often came to hear older customers reminisce about the days when bag boys packed your foodstuffs for you and carried them out to your car. Now grocery stores have self-serve checkouts and some even make you bag your own groceries or bring your own bags to bag them in. There was a time when workers at a clothing store would assist you in every aspect of your purchase, but now it’s normal for them to be very hands-off. Chances are (thanks to the internet) you already know what you’ve come in to buy.

Supermarket chain Loblaw has recently introduced a “click and collect” option for grocery purchases. Greater Toronto Area stores will be implementing the method, which allows customers to make orders online and Loblaw employees gather the order in store. clcikandCustomers pay a $3 to $5 fee to collect their order. The orders can be customized to the customer’s preference like selecting green bananas over ripe bananas. These types of services have become popular in the UK, and slowly are gaining popularity in Canada.

It seems as stores disengage more with their market, the market is disengaging back. For those remaining  clerks who greet you with a smile and fast, friendly service, many people could care less. Imagine yourself as a supermarket cashier for an 8 hour day (keep in mind, a cashier who is kind and happy to be there). It’s not hindering on your employed status that you smile, but you’re smiling anyways. It doesn’t come out of your paycheque if you don’t ask a customer how they are, or wish them a wonderful afternoon, or laugh at the same debit machine joke you’ve heard 2,000 times. Nothing stops you from doing it anyways. Now imagine the reaction you get. Surliness, faces glued to smartphones, people grumbling about how pork chops are 20 cents more and somehow it’s specifically your fault. If I had the choice, I would rather shop for people. If this is the wave of the grocery shopping future than I am 100% behind it.

Pre Order Your Pumpkin Spice! Starbucks Introduces Mobile Ordering App

6:00 AM – Your alarm is chiming. You fumble for your phone to hit ‘snooze’.

6:04 AM – That wasn’t enough of a snooze but your routine of putting yourself together for the day doesn’t allow you any more sleep.

6:45 AM – You’re running for your bus.

7:00 AM – You’re running for your second bus.

7:45 AM – You’ve made it to Starbucks with 15 minutes to spare before your meeting/interview/presentation and you’re ready to order your favourite venti mocha/chestnut/pumpkin/caramel with whip. Always get whip. Alas, the line to the counter is ten miles long! And the front runner of the eager orderers has never set foot in a Starbucks! She doesn’t know whether to get whip! You watch the clock tick as the line is at a stand still. Does this sound familiar?

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Starbucks has come up with a solution! The coffee shop heavyweight, which originated in Seattle, is testing a mobile ordering app in 150 of their stores in Portland, Oregon. The app for smartphones will allow customers to pre-order their beverage and pick it up without waiting in a massive line-up.

This sounds like a great innovation for consumers because, as a society, we are moving towards a digital future. If the tests are successful the app will give Starbucks an edge on competitors and make it easy for the company to collect data on customer ordering patterns. It will also be another platform to infuse with targeted ads.

Studies conducted on digital ordering have shown that consumers will spend more when placing orders online. Pizza delivery companies such as Domino’s have seen a very positive response to their online ordering option. 

The development of these apps and features highlight the way our purchasing behaviour is changing. We are drifting away from the person to person aspect of the purchase, cutting more time off our already fast food. Apple launched Apple Pay this past Monday, an app I’ve been expecting for a while now. It lets iPhone users pay by simply pulling out their device. No longer must you plunder through your pockets or dig for your wallet as you approach the checkout. Lopping off precious moments spent scrounging, and detaching you from the idea that money is being removed from your account. Passbook_ApplePay_JPEG_800

Starbucks customers in other parts of the world will have to wait until Christmas time to try out the app for themselves. This is good news to those of you whose mornings are plagued with lengthy lines and indecisive imbeciles imploring baristas as to what exactly is a “dark roast”.