Visual retrieval and classification are of growing importance for a number of applications, including surveillance, automotive, as well as web and mobile search. To facilitate these processes, features are often computed from images to extract discriminative aspects of the scene, such as structure, texture or color information. Ideally, these features would be robust to changes in perspective, illumination, and other transformations. This paper examines two approaches that employ dimensionality reduction for fast and accurate matching of visual features while also being bandwidth-efficient, scalable, and parallelizable. We focus on two classes of techniques to illustrate the benefits of dimensionality reduction in the context of various industrial applications. The first method is referred to as quantized embeddings, which generates a distance-preserving feature vector with low rate. The second method is a low-rank matrix factorization applied to a sequence of visual features, which exploits the temporal redundancy among feature vectors associated with each frame in a video. Both methods discussed in this paper are also universal in that they do not require prior assumptions about the statistical properties of the signals in the database or the query. Furthermore, they enable the system designer to navigate a rate versus performance trade-off similar to the rate-distortion trade-off in conventional compression.