eBay rolls out visual search on its UK site

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eBay has gone live with Image Search in the UK, allowing shoppers to simply enter a photo into the search bar to find what they are looking for.

The move brings the much vaunted tech to the marketplace sector and helps shoppers find what they want without having to describe it. The service is likely to be a boon for fashion and apparel retailers – although it could see a rise in people stalkerishly taking photos of people wearing stuff whom they don’t know. It is also going to work well for unusual items that are hard to describe, such as shoes, handbags, antiques and unusual items.

The move by eBay adds to its ‘Shop the Look’ services that it rolled out earlier this year with Mashable and Time Inc, where shoppers could buy items that they could see on Mashable and Time Inc articles about celebs. Now it is available to the general public and could transform how people shop.

“Moments of shopping inspiration can come at any time, whether you’re walking down the street or browsing your social media feed,” says Rob Hattrell, Vice President, eBay UK. “At eBay, we’re focused on creating new complementary technology that helps our millions of customers. Whether this is helping buyers to easily find the things they love at the best value, or by surfacing relevant inventory from sellers on the platform in a new and engaging way. eBay Image Search makes it possible for people to shop and sell on eBay by using any image or photo that inspires them.”

To help people solve the challenge of spending hours scouring stores or the web for certain items, eBay applied artificial intelligence and machine learning technology. These technologies are already embedded across the eBay experience making the Marketplace’s vast product catalogue easily searchable. As people continue to use eBay Image Search, eBay will be able to surface even richer results and filtering – from new, nearly new and used items.

“When it comes to creating new, innovative shopping experiences, eBay is at a technological advantage due to the rich set of user-generated images and item data we’ve accumulated through the years,” adds Hattrell.” By applying machine learning technology, eBay can deliver a fast and reliable shopping experience backed by one of the world’s largest commerce data sets.”

Visual search is growing in popularity as it makes search easier and more intuitive argue its fans. eBay’s roll out of the tech also brings it to the masses, as does the launch in June of visual search tech by Poq also looks set to make it a tool that most retailers are likely to use.

Image: eBay HQ London

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