Consumers looking at crowded retail shelves often choose the product that most effectively catches their eye.

And Target believes that adopting a similar approach could transform the digital shopping experience, which traditionally has relied on text-driven cues – like search inquiries or drop-down menus – to help buyers find exactly the right product for them.

To pursue that goal, the Minneapolis, Minnesota-based retailer has partnered with Pinterest, a social network where members collect recipes, home-decoration ideas, fashion tips, and other items of personal interest from across the web. Every "pin" they create features an image, a description, and a link to the original source, so users can click through to discover additional information.

Pinterest's "Lens" tool, launched earlier this year, takes this idea a step further by enabling app users to photograph an object (a pair of shoes a friend is wearing, for instance) via their smartphone camera to learn more about that product and/or near equivalents, and receive suggestions about complementary goods.