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Dive Brief:

  • Hoping to make it easier for shoppers to find what they want, Etsy is rolling out a new visual image search function to locate similar products on the platform starting with iOS users, according to a Thursday post by company product lead Han Cho.
  • Consumers can access the function by tapping the camera icon in the search bar in the Etsy mobile app. From there, shoppers can upload or take an image to see similar items available on the e-commerce marketplace.
  • The beta rollout will hopefully come to Android app users sometime soon, according to Cho. The latest employee-led feature was the result of Etsy’s Hackathon event CodeMosaic, where engineers are able to show off new skills and potentially create new product solutions.

Dive Insight:

Etsy’s new image feature can not only help shoppers navigate its over 100 million listings, but it could also assist its sellers in being found more easily.

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

The marketplace known for handmade and small-owned goods joins the likes of Google and Pinterest in developing how shoppers can use visuals in the buying process instead of words. Pinterest has been steadily ramping up its social commerce efforts, acquiring an AI shopping platform in June and launching new AR home decor features in January. Google has been expanding its shop functionalities throughout the year, with new updates this month focused on finding searchers the best deals on products. 

This new feature might not fix all the issues sellers have on Etsy’s platform, though. In April, sellers went on strike over a 30% transaction fee hike. Thousands signed an online petition and paused business through the website. The company later said in May that the strike resulted in no “material impact” on sales, according to a Seeking Alpha transcript. 

Etsy’s new mobile feature follows news last month that Rachana Kumar will become its new chief technology officer on Jan. 1. Kumar brings eight years at the company working on product development and mobile app strategy.


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