Ebay has launched Image Search in the UK, an AI-based technology that means you can now enter a photo into the search box to help find the product you’re looking for.
Smart Phone Camera Search
With so many of us now using smart-phones, this innovative new feature means that users can take a photo on their phone of a product they’re inspired by and interested in, and use the machine learning technology that’s been added to eBay’s 1.1 billion item catalogue to quickly search for that product.
Technology Push at eBay
This latest addition to eBay’s search is part of a general push by eBay to bolt-on more technologies and forge alliances to increase the reach of its platform and to take the fight to competitors.
For example, eBay recently collaborated with worldwide media and entertainment company for culture and tech ‘Mashable’ so that an eBay widget could be introduced into Mashable. The widget allows Mashable’s audience to see and use a small eBay shop window overlaid on the page, and populated by products that are featured in Mashable articles, thereby allowing people to instantly buy what they they’re reading about. The benefit for eBay (according to eBay) is that eBay’s marketing team will be able to use it to better understand the factors that matter most to buyers making purchases off the eBay platform e.g. seller reputation and delivery time, and to use learned consumer insights from the pilot to deliver scalable solutions that accelerate eBay’s growth.
Smart Search Benefits
The sheer size of eBay’s catalogue means that it can sometimes take a long time for users to find the item they’re looking for, particularly if that item is very difficult to describe. Also, the watching and waiting aspect of eBay, its reputation as an auction site, and its lack of ability to actively engage have appeared to put it slightly at odds with a generation who simply want to quickly find what they’re looking for via their smart-phone, and purchase it. eBay also needed to find a way to get the most out of the vast number of user-generated images and item data that they’d accumulated through the years, and to capitalise on the instant product inspiration that people get e.g. from their social media feeds.
It is believed that the Image Search feature will be able to address all of these challenges, and will allow users to quickly find what they’re looking for while on the move. It may also encourage more seller to take to the platform.
What Does This Mean For Your Business?
This is another illustration of how AI/machine learning is being put to practical and value-adding use as a medium for brand/company growth and user convenience. For businesses in retail such as fashion and apparel, this new feature could bring increased sales and brand recognition, and could help new lines to generate sales rapidly.
For eBay, this innovative search feature could kill many birds with one stone towards the aim of delivering scalable solutions that can accelerate eBay’s growth.
Visual search is a growing trend, particularly in retail e.g. ASOS, Zalando and John Lewis have adopted visual search into their apps to save customers time, to make themselves more socially discoverable, to drive up-sell activity, and to ultimately increase app revenue. Visual search technology is likely to find its way onto many more platforms, retail websites and apps yet.