Images are increasingly supplanting words as consumers embrace images over text.

As we outline in one of our 10 Trends for 2014 and Beyond, images are increasingly supplanting words as consumers embrace images over text. Mobile devices—with their built-in cameras, emoji-enabled keyboards and many visually oriented apps (Instagram, Vine, etc.)—are especially conducive to a visual vocabulary. Reflecting this shift, we’re seeing some m-commerce discovery tools built around images rather than product descriptions—enabling consumers to identify real-life products they like using their smartphone camera.

In February, Amazon launched Flow, an image-recognition feature on its app that lets customers add items to a shopping list by holding them in front of the smartphone camera, removing the need to scan a barcode. (Amazon appears bent on removing the need to type in words: It’s now testing Dash, a Wi-Fi wand that lets users scan barcodes or verbally add items to a list.) Similarly, Slyce, which raised $11 million in its first financing round last month, offers a mobile app (as well as a desktop service) that provides purchase information based on a users’ photo. The company is pitching the service to major retailers. The Hunt is a desktop and mobile tool that relies on crowdsourcing rather than image recognition software to help shoppers find purchase info based on photos.

The selling process is also becoming more visual. Depop, for instance, is a social app operating in the U.K. that lets users “sell by just taking a picture.” Similar apps include Shpock in Europe and Rumgr in the U.S.

As image recognition technology enables more image-based discovery, brands will have new ways to help consumers compile instant shopping lists and discover what they need or want, and to lead them quickly to purchase.

Image credit: CNBC