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Facebook Snaps Up Advanced E-Commerce Solution Creator

14 February 2019 - 10:28 by Simon Crisp

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Social media giant Facebook has taken a step further into the arena of offering safe shopping online to users by taking over GrokStyle, a start-up that focuses on advanced web-based retail features powered by artificial intelligence.

The main area of interest which GrokStyle focuses on is visual search, and its solutions have already been put to use by big name chains like Ikea. Customers can take advantage of their smartphone’s camera to capture pictures of products and then use the image to search for the item in question rather than having to rely on keywords to find what they need.

Facebook is not entirely unfamiliar with visual search technology, although at the moment its main use for this is to sniff out inappropriate content uploaded to its platform and censor it automatically without the need for human oversight.

There are already a number of ways for Facebook users to buy items, although it has not gone so far as to compete directly with Amazon and other standalone e-commerce sites, instead creating a marketplace for users to sell locally to one another.

With the power of visual search and machine learning, it may be better equipped to integrate e-commerce capabilities into its site and app.

Elswhere in the Facebook family of sites and services, Instagram is gaining ground thanks to its own built-in shopping features, albeit via a variety of third-party apps and links.

Photos and live streamed videos could soon receive visual search capabilities tied into e-commerce if the acquisition of GrokStyle is put into effect directly within Facebook. Since there are no real rivals to Mark Zuckerberg’s social media site, it is free to experiment as it wishes with such features and define user expectations without having to keep pace with any competitors.