Etsy’s Mobile App Rolls Out an Image Search Feature

Image search is great for customers — and it might help sellers as well, since it identifies price-hiking scammers.
Adam Rowe

Etsy is rolling out a new search function: The popular ecommerce platform will now allow customers to search through marketplace listings using an image instead of text.

Image search lets users upload a picture of a product they're searching for, then delivers all the similar products Etsy has to offer. It's an efficient way to get the exact look or style a customer is after without the danger of a vague text search that results in endless not-quite perfect search results.

The feature is out on the iOS app now, giving users a camera icon to tap in order to take or upload an image. The beta aims to roll out to Android users soon.

How Etsy Image Search Can Defeat Scammers

The image search functionality will help customers who want to find something very specific, as company product lead Han Cho explained in the announcement.

“We’re always investing in our marketplace to make it easier for sellers to grow their businesses. 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.” ~Han Cho

For Etsy sellers specifically, the image search function is good news. It solves an issue that plagues any big ecommerce platforms with a host of third-party sellers: Some sellers will charge too much for a shoddy replica or ripoff of a popular product.

With a reverse image search, buyers can find all versions of a similar product, comparing them easily in order to make it clear which ones are the inferior version, or which ones are priced absurdly high in comparison to the other. The best sellers will rise to the top.

Etsy's new image search feature in action.

Users have been sharing ways to filter out the scam products for years now. One Reddit post from 2020 recommends that wedding planners keep an eye on the style and background of product images to suss out the fakes. If this new feature is anything to go by, Etsy was paying attention.

Image Search Is Getting Popular

Google's Reverse Image Search function has been around for well over a decade, and the company has offered a more advanced neural net-based image search, Google Lens, since 2017. Just last week, Google's VP of Engineering Rajan Patel announced that the company had added Lens as an image-search icon on its home page, which is easily among the most visible webpages on the internet.

It makes sense that image search might take over, given the improvements in AI-power image search tech across the past few years, combined with the rise of a younger generation invested in visual-first platforms like TikTok and YouTube.

Thanks to TikTok's ever-churning micro fashion trends, ecommerce is in greater need than ever of the pinpoint accuracy that an image search feature lends itself to. How else can we find the exact hanging light fixture that Pizza Hut uses, or track down whatever this furniture is?

If you're a small business owner hoping to get your products in front of interested customers in 2022, image search can't hurt.

When you pick out the right website builder for you, ask yourself if you need an Etsy integration. Our top ecommerce website builder pick, Shopify, offers the Etsy Marketplace Integration app, while our favorite builder for smaller online stores, Wix, has one it calls the Etsy Shop app.

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Adam is a writer at Tech.co and has worked as a tech writer, blogger and copy editor for more than a decade. He's also a Forbes Contributor on the publishing industry, for which he was named a Digital Book World 2018 award finalist. His work has appeared in publications including Popular Mechanics and IDG Connect, and he has an art history book on 1970s sci-fi coming out from Abrams Books in 2022. In the meantime, he's hunting own the latest news on VPNs, POS systems, and the future of tech.

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