A survey conducted by WeSEE, the results of which were published this week, has found that younger British consumers are keen to move away from text-based queries and instead embrace image-oriented searching, particularly when looking to buy products from e-commerce sites.

Retail Gazette reports that 74 per cent of the 1000 adults aged 34 and under ,said they believe traditional keyword searching is not the most efficient way to find the items they are after, with about the same proportion calling for image search to be integrated into the process of shopping online.

Many of the respondents to the study also said that they are more likely to use an e-commerce site if it is able to offer a degree of personalisation, since a bespoke shopping experience is more appealing to consumers than a one-size-fits-all approach.

Forty percent of those questioned said that they were looking for e-commerce sites to embrace a more visual design style, focusing on multimedia elements and intuitive interfaces, so that they can seek out items and services they require, while remaining engaged and interested.

A quarter of respondents even said that they would be willing for e-commerce sites to make product recommendations based on their browsing histories, which shows that some people are willing to sacrifice a degree of privacy, in favour of a slicker online shopping experience.

Twelve percent said that they are in favour of the idea of being able to make e-commerce purchases from within social networking services, without having to head to a separate landing page, while roughly the same amount would be happy for sites to offer products by analysing images they had uploaded to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and similar services.

The rise of the image-oriented generation has been driven, to a degree, by the increased use of smartphones, with 40 per cent of those questioned saying that they have used their mobiles to snap a pic of something at a high street outlet, so that they can look it up when they return home.

If search providers and e-commerce sites are able to take these pictures and find the product in a few seconds, while the consumer is out and about, then there is an opportunity to secure a conversion quickly and even encourage more impulse buying.

Sixty five percent of respondents to the survey said that they responded to the visual representation of an item on an e-commerce site to a greater degree than the accompanying text, which should show webmasters just how important it is to get photographic and multimedia elements right.

A third of the young consumers questioned said that while they enjoyed shopping online, they found it difficult to discover new brands, with image search being one way to overcome this issue.

There is clearly a need for search providers and e-commerce companies to work to address the needs of the new generation of consumers, because engagement is not guaranteed, particularly with the increased use of smartphones.