Slyce is a Visual Search Platform that is Making Shopping Futuristic

There are only two types of people in this little blue space rock of ours: ones who simply buy what they want and the ones who like to research something and then go buy it. We are all consumers in the end but the way we handle our consuming impulse varies. Being able to capture this intent to purchase in the real-world, at the moment of impulse, is a very significant parameter for retailers. For the first type of folks, a quick response can lead to positive reinforcement of their  “just go buy” attitude. For the prudent type of shoppers, being able to search right away the availability, pricing and deals on a product means quicker intent-to-sale conversion.

Retailers get traditional ad agencies to dish out giant banners and swanky TV spots but empowering the consumers to search and find new products by themselves is arguably a lot more effective and economical.  Slyce makes the whole world a showroom by matching real objects to store products at the click of a smartphone camera button!


Slyce was conceptualized by Canadian venture creation firm, Business Instincts Group (BIG) which have brought several high profile startups to market. Serial tech entrepreneur Cameron Chell — who is also the founder of BIG — co-founded Slyce with Erika Racicot. Mark Elfenbein, who serves as the CEO and Dan Grigsby, CTO, are part of a dedicated team of 80 employees . Slyce is a publicly traded company on the Toronto Venture Exchange.

Cameron recalls the Friday when Slyce came about, “Every Friday evening at BIG, team members play songs from an office-wide playlist. I took fancy to a particular song and immediately Shazam’d it, seeing which Erika got the idea to ‘Shazam’ products you like and want to buy. The next few hours were spent story-boarding the idea and starting the process of figuring out how to make that very thing possible!”

But the road to making this a reality was anything but easy. The team basically had to create a custom algorithm to tackle the complexity involved in advanced image recognition. Explains Cameron, “Recognizing pictures of a seemingly infinite number of real world items and matching to retailer-held products is complex. We effectively set about creating a new category within retail and this took a lot of time, money and a bevy of skilled people to perfect.”

The Shazam for Shopping

Slyce is basically a visual search platform for retailers. It integrates with their existing apps and allows users to snap images of products in the real world and, with no need for cropping or category definition, be provided with all matching products from their product line, which they can purchase with one click. There’s also an app for consumers called Pounce which offers the same functionality of searching pictures of real world items but presents the results from multiple retailers such as Wal-Mart, Gap and BestBuy.

On the competition, Cameron remarks, “There a few other providers of visual product search technology in the market but we feel our platform is the market leader when it comes to speed, efficiency and accuracy.” Amazon also recently launched its Firefly product search technology along with the Fire Phone but it relies on items being packaged or branded. As a crucial differentiating factor , the technology used in Slyce can recognize items without any packaging and in almost any real-world environment. “We are the Firefly for every retailer!” quips Cameron.

Snap and Add to Cart

The company has announced three acquisitions in the past six months including SnipSnap which is one of the leading apps in the US for discount coupons. Cameron adds, “We are also doing extensive integration of our  service with big retailers like Neiman Marcus and Tilly’s. There is a very healthy businesses development pipeline and, as visual search has become more of a must-have feature for retailers, we’re experiencing substantial growth.”

Slyce creates revenue from a combination of software licensing to brands and retailers, ongoing product ingestion fees, per image fees and revenue shares on transactions.

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