eBay Image Search

Today eBay announced Image Search and Find it on eBay are coming to the platform later this year. These two initiatives provide a new experience to allow shoppers to find products on eBay using images.

The image search technology is powered by artificial intelligence and machine learning. eBay expects this to change how shoppers will find products on their platform.

With over 1.1 billion items for sale, eBay has one of the largest collection of product images among all marketplaces. Remember the little thing about eBay now owns the rights to your images? Now we know why!

How does it work for a shopper

With Image Search, a buyer can take a picture, or an existing picture from their camera roll, and enter it into the search bar of their mobile app. The app will have a cropping feature to focus on the product the buyer wishes to find.

Image: eBay | Android Image Search
Image: eBay | Android Image Search

As more people search eBay using the image search technology, the machine learning algorithm will learn from buyer behavior and provide better results. It will also have many of the filters available typical for regular search such as new, like-new, or used.

The other way image search will be implemented is on social media platforms, websites, or blogs. This feature is called Find It On eBay.

With Find It On eBay, shoppers on a social platform or website can just “Share” the URL with eBay, and the eBay mobile app will surface listings of the product.

eBay has been working on this feature for over 2 years

The company in nerd speak stated that when a seller uploads an image, they will use a convolutional neural network to process the images.

eBay developed the idea for Image Search with a small team during eBay Hack Week. This event is an annual company-wide competition challenging eBay’s technologists to innovate and reimagine the eCommerce experience.

The image search project won the competition in 2015, and from then on, eBay built a team to make the project come alive. The team continues to work on additional features and expect to launch more computer vision products in the coming months.

eBay provided a video to show off the image search feature

eBay did not give any details on best practices or on how to maximize this feature when it becomes available.

Maybe they will discuss it a bit during this week’s eBay Open conference. (And we did mention in that article not to expect any major news, so much for that…)

Time to prepare for busy holiday season

eBay’s “Fill Your Cart With Color” campaign is very likely going to be instrumental in introducing this feature to shoppers this fall.

Shifting to image search may require some sellers to take a good look at their pictures. This review is particularly the case for fashion, apparel, accessories, and home products sellers that rely on visuals.

If you are selling products that are mostly bought by visuals, Image Search is going to be a game changer. High-quality images and different angles are going to be important when selling on eBay.

Look at your product images. If you have products that need improvement, do it now before this goes live. Keep in mind that if you used pictures of products that showed the product in a use-case environment, this might not work well with this type of search.

You should have multiple images of just the product at different angles. Even without having any ability to test yet, that is going to be the key to success for image search.


What do you think about eBay’s image search? Please use the comments section below or head over to our Facebook Group for Small Business Sellers and interact with other small business owners.
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