Etsy Image Search iOS App
Screenshots: Etsy

Etsy Launches Image Search on Mobile App – May Also Help Sellers Find Infringing Listings


Etsy has launched a new feature on the iOS app enabling users to search for unique items by an image on the marketplace.

With the new image search feature, shoppers can better describe what they’re looking for with images rather than keywords, which until now has been the fastest way to find items on Etsy.

The new image search feature is simple to use. Users tap the new camera icon in the search bar in the Etsy app, upload or take a photo, and the app will find items that are visually similar to the image provided.

“We know that buyers often seek shopping inspiration outside of the marketplace, then turn to Etsy to discover items and make purchases. But sometimes they have trouble finding the right words to find the perfect items,” said Han Cho, product lead responsible for Etsy’s buyer-facing iOS and Android apps.

The new image search feature was developed as part of CodeMosaic, Etsy’s annual Hackathon, which enables engineers to showcase creative ideas and solutions to benefit the Etsy platform and community.

Cho said the new feature showed encouraging results in early testing, enabling the company to launch it to all iOS users as a beta now.

Etsy will continue to develop the image search as more shoppers use it to explore the more than 90 million items on the marketplace, further improving the experience.

Also, the company “hope[s] to expand image search to Android app user soon” but didn’t provide details if developers are actively working on the Android version or when users could expect to see it.

Etsy Image Search Could Help Sellers Improve Sales

Image search is a great function and has worked well on other platforms such as eBay and Google if sellers create images to help the technology narrow results.

While the holy grail of image search would be for the technology to automatically identify the focused object (item), it’s advisable to make the product stand out to achieve the best results.

In other words, sellers should ensure that their primary product image is clutter free and identifiable against a near-solid background.

Even before the new image search feature, Etsy’s product photography guide recommended using a “seamless background.” With the new image search, this best practice for product images is even more important.

While the Etsy guide also discusses placing products into a contextual setting, primary product images are always best when they clearly highlight the item.

Following Etsy’s product photo guidelines should improve image search results for shoppers and hopefully increase sales for sellers putting in the effort to display their products visually.

Secondary Benefit for Sellers

Another benefit for sellers of the new image search feature could be the ability to identify infringing listings and report them to Etsy for action.

By searching for items visually on the app, sellers can more easily find sellers, including resellers, offering their products or designs without authorization.

For sellers not familiar with the process, Etsy explains how to handle and report potentially infringing items in its help section here.

So, while the image search is designed to help buyers find products on Etsy, a side benefit is that sellers may just got a new tool to identify and report infringing sellers more easily.

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