strategist investigates

I Reverse Image-Searched My Way to a Cheaper Lamp

Photo-Illustration: retailer

While working on a story about floor lamps the other day, I unexpectedly had trouble finding a product that a designer had recommended — she’d sent me the brand name and an image of it, but I still couldn’t find it. Ever the investigative reporter, I thought: Maybe I could do a reverse image search for this item. When I right-clicked on the product image, a helpful option came up: “Search image with Google Lens.” So I clicked.

A new tab opened up on my browser with a grid of identical images. The tool was, it seemed, unearthing the same product at various sites across the internet — both big-box and smaller retailers I’d never heard of. The most mind-boggling thing was that every price was vastly different, ranging from $103 — at Walmart, predictably — to $189 at Macy’s to $271 at Bed Bath and Beyond to an egregious $470 at Wayfair, which listed the lamp for nearly five times the price and under an entirely new company and product name. And I know for certain that all the lamps were the same because they used the exact same product and lifestyle imagery (which was how, I assume, Google Lens was able to locate them at all in the first place).

The lamp, it turned out, was originally made by Safavieh — the Stefan, specifically — but from what I could gather, other retailers had white-labeled it for a markup, some significant, some not. On Amazon and Walmart, they indicated the list price as $300 on sale for $103, which explains the higher prices at Macy’s and BBB since they’re still below MSRP (manufacturer suggested retail price — the price a manufacturer recommends a store sell their product at). But Wayfair’s markup seemed unreasonable, especially for a company that’s known for its affordable home goods. I tried this hack with a couple of other lamps (the Coaster Company Tripod Floor Lamp and the Tov Furniture Arena Marble Base Floor Lamp) and was able to find them for cheaper on websites that most people are familiar with.

Reverse image-searching has obviously been around forever, but I had never used it in this capacity before, and now I feel like I’ve come across some kind of secret (e-commerce) power. (Albeit one that likely works best for mass-produced or at least ubiquitous home goods, like floor lamps.) If you think you could find it cheaper somewhere else, you probably can.

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I Reverse Image-Searched My Way to a Cheaper Lamp