EBay rolls out image-driven shopping search tools
eBay has announced two new features, Find It On eBay and Image Search, that help shoppers discover products on eBay similar to what they see in photos on social media platforms, websites and even on their own smartphone camera galleries, according to an eBay blog post.
The Find It On eBay feature in the eBay app lets shoppers share images from any web browser or social network with eBay to enable the mobile app to find product listings of the item in the image. Image Search allows a user to take a photo of something they want to buy — or use a photo from an existing camera roll — and put it into the search bar on the app. Then, eBay shows listings that match the desired item.
Both of these new features will be available this fall. Image Search will be available on both Android and iOS, while Find It On eBay will only be on Android.
eBay said its came upon the idea for Image Search with a small team during eBay Hack Week, an annual company-wide competition challenging eBay technologists to innovate and reimagine the e-commerce experience. However, it is also worth noting that eBay has been upping it product search game for a while now, and within the last year acquired visual search engine company Corrigon.
That deal came at a time in late 2016 when most of the biggest names on the Internet were investigating and investing in image search in one way or another, and more recently we have been seeing those efforts come to fruition in offerings like Amazon’s Spark shoppable content feed, Pinterest’s image search browser button and Google’s Similar Items feature. Instagram and Facebook, among others, also have been moving in that direction.
This is the culmination of eBay’s efforts in that regard. The company said these tools are capable of sifting through the more than 1.1 billion listings on its site, opening up a new avenue to product discovery. The features also rely on artificial intelligence capabilities, such as computer vision and deep learning. The latter is applied to photos customers upload to use the app features, and gives eBay a way to compare to the images of the live listings on its site. Items are then ranked based on visual similarity.
With all the big names in search and online shopping turning to this technology, we should start to see in the coming months if and how it makes a difference for them and their shoppers. These moves also could put the pressure on retailers to support similar features in their own mobile apps.