Love It? Find More Like It with eBay’s New Image Search Feature
By: Seema Jethani, Product Lead, Search Platform & Venkat Medapati, Product Lead, Buyer Engagement & Discovery
Our latest visual shopping feature helps you discover more items that look like your favorites with only the swipe of a finger.
There’s an easier way to find more of what you love on eBay. It’s as simple as dragging and dropping images into the search bar as you shop on our mobile app.
When we introduced Image Search last year, we used computer vision to make it easier to find like items from the world around you in our global marketplace. Now, you can explore our marketplace further with just a swipe of your finger. As we continue to make the entire internet shoppable using computer vision, we’re evolving the search experience on eBay to help you more easily find what you want. Starting in August, our new visual shopping feature allows you to drag an image to the search bar to find more items that look like the image that you love.
Let’s say you’re looking for a new chair, so you type “egg chair” into the eBay search bar and you see a list of results for your search. If one chair in particular stands out, now you can search for more products that look like it—just drag and drop the image of the chair you like into the search bar to see visually similar results.
Our new visual shopping feature is powered by artificial intelligence. We use deep learning networks known as convolutional neural networks to process your images. Behind the scenes, when you submit your image in the search field, the neural network converts your image into a vector representation. Then, the vector representation of the image that you submit is compared against more than 1.1 billion live listings in eBay’s marketplace, using nearest neighbor search. Finally, we surface the best-matched items, ranked by visual similarity.
Building this type of feature is particularly challenging when you think of all the different types and styles of images on eBay’s marketplace—there are more than 2.1 billion images—as opposed to clean and uniform images. We had to train our models to cancel out the noise to better understand what you might be looking for and show you items that are visually similar. Over the past several months, we have also invested in training models specifically for visually rich categories such as Fashion and Home & Garden. We focus on images and text labels specific to those categories to return better quality results.
As we improve the experience, we are heavily focused on continuing to enhance its quality and integrate more into eBay’s shopping experience. The visual shopping feature will be available starting in August on Android and iOS for the U.S., U.K., Germany and Australia. We’ll continue to evolve it and add more ways to search with images soon.