The feature could prove useful for when you don’t know the name of the product you’re looking at, as with shoes. That could turn visual search into a new form of word-of-mouth marketing where every time an owner shows off a product, they’re effectively erecting a billboard for it. Eventually, visual search could help users shop across language barriers.
Euromonitor International estimates that Amazon US sold $24.6 billion of clothing and footwear in 2017, of which $20 billion was sold by third-party sellers. We estimate that this total would place Amazon roughly level with Walmart, America’s biggest apparel seller—although we note that Walmart achieves this position primarily through first-party sales while Amazon is largely transacting third-party sales.
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The company launched amazon.com Auctions, a web auctions service, in March 1999. However, it failed to chip away at the large market share of the industry pioneer, eBay. Later, the company launched a fixed-price marketplace business, zShops, in September 1999, and the now defunct partnership with Sotheby's, called Sothebys.amazon.com, in November. Auctions and zShops evolved into Amazon Marketplace, a service launched in November 2000 that let customers sell used books, CDs, DVDs, and other products alongside new items. As of October 2014, Amazon Marketplace is the largest of its kind, followed by similar marketplaces from Sears, Rakuten and Newegg.