The other day, while working on a floor lamp story, I had trouble finding a product that a designer had recommended to me – she had sent me the brand name and a picture of it – here, but I still couldn’t find it. Still an investigative journalist, I thought: I might be able to do a reverse image search for this article. When I right-clicked on the product image, a helpful option popped up: “Find image with Google Lens”. So I clicked.
A new tab opened on my browser with a grid of identical images. The tool was, it seems, digging up the same product from different sites on the internet – both big box stores and smaller retailers that I had never heard of. The most mind-boggling thing was that each price was very different, ranging from $103 – at Amazon and Walmart, as you’d expect – to $189 at Macy’s to $271 at Bed Bath and Beyond to a whopping $470 at Wayfair, which has listed the lamp for almost five years. times the price and under a completely new company and product name. And I know for sure that all the lights were the same because they used the exact same product and lifestyle images (that’s how I guess Google Lens was able to locate them in the first place).
Turns out the lamp was originally made by Safavieh – the Stefan, in particular – but from what I could gather other retailers had marked it white for a markup, some important, others not. On Amazon and Walmart they listed the list price at $300 on sale for $103 which explains the higher prices at Macy’s and BBB as they are always below the MSRP (Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price – the price you a manufacturer recommends a store sell their product at ). But Wayfair’s markup seemed unreasonable, especially for a company known for its affordable homewares. I tried this hack with a few other lamps (the Coaster Company Tripod Floor Lamp and the Tov Furniture Arena Marble Base Floor Lamp) and was able to find them cheaper on websites that most people are familiar with.
Reverse image search has been around forever, but I’ve never used it in this capacity before, and now I feel like I’ve encountered some sort of secret power (e-commerce). (Although the one that probably works best for mass-produced or at least ubiquitous household products, like floor lamps.) If you think you could find it cheaper elsewhere, you probably can.
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