eBay filed a patent to protect its “Shop the Look” technology. In the background section of the patent filing, eBay explained:
“Ecommerce systems typically sell hundred, thousands, or even millions of items to users. In light of so many choices, it can be difficult for a user to locate items that may interest him or herself. Browsing through items, which involves looking through numerous items without a specific search specified, can be especially challenging in the online world. When a search is performed, a user usually enters a search query in the form of a text search and/or by specifying one or more filters. The results are typically organized by one or more factors, such as relevance, category, date added, etc. When performing a pure browsing function, however, this organization can be more difficult to obtain in a manner that provides relevant results.”
The technology is designed to increase the likelihood a shopper will find items they wish to purchase. As the patent describes: “Specifically, a particular look of an image can be quantified and used to retrieve additional items containing that look or matching the look. The image can either be explicitly specified by the user (e.g., by the user clicking on an image) or may be deduced based on usage behavior (e.g., based on past purchases or viewing habits). In this way, the user need not specify an exact search to retrieve items that may be relevant for browsing purposes, even in systems where a large number of items are available.”
The following image from the patent filing illustrates eBay’s thinking on the technology, showing a bedroom and items in the room that a shopper might wish to buy.
In one scenario, eBay envisions how an online content provider that provides articles about home items could use its Shop the Look feature. “Here, the third party is not an ecommerce provider but merely an online content provider, such as one that provides articles about home items (and photos of such items). The browser interface and/or the site may be designed in a manner that allows the user to see items from an ecommerce site that are of the same look as the item(s) depicted in the photos.”
eBay had referenced dynamic “Shop the Look” technology as far back as 2017, when it launched a campaign tied to Fashion Week. It had written in its announcement, “As the fashion world gathers in New York for a week of style revelry, eBay is inviting stylish shoppers around the country to be a part of #MyFashionWeek, which will celebrate incredible looks from real people. Marrying its new “Shop the Look” image recognition technology with the art of fashion illustration, eBay is introducing a new destination to shop one-of-a-kind fashion sketches – just in time for fall.”
The patent filing is a reminder that eBay has a lot of Intellectual Property that presumably adds value to its portfolio.