Posted by: Rob Hof on November 8, 2006
Anyone who uses search engines to look for products knows the process can be an exercise in frustration. Whether it be Google or shopping comparison sites like Shopping.com, it’s often tough to find not only just the product you want—especially for more aesthetic items like apparel and jewelry.
That’s what Like.com, which launches this morning, aims to fix with what it calls a visual search engine for products, starting with jewelry, handbags, shoes, and watches. Find a photo of a red strappy shoe that you like (or type an initial search on “red strappy shoes”), for instance, and you’ll get an array of, well, red strappy shoes from a variety of retailers, such as Amazon.com and Zappos.
That’s just the start, though. Once you take a look at those products, you can highlight the part of the shoe you like, and the search engine will find other shoes with similar patterns, shapes, and colors. Then, you can further refine the search with sliders that let you rank the relative importance of pattern, shape, and color.
Like.com was created by Riya, a company that initially focused on face recognition—which was pretty cool, actually—but couldn’t really come up with a business model for it. Munjal Shah, Riya’s CEO, told me the other day that the same technology works well to find similar-looking products.
Eventually, the company will add the ability to upload a photo of a product—like your favorite shirt that isn’t made anymore but you want to find something like it, or a photo taken with a camera phone at a store, to see if you can find the product cheaper online.
Like.com, which has raised $19.5 million from Bay Partners, BlueRun Ventures, Leapfrog Ventures, and others, plans to make money as an affiliate of these retail sites, meaning it gets paid about a 10% commission on a sale to a customer it sent to an online retailer. Right now, there are about 2 million unique products from 200 or so merchants.