Identify Products & Check Prices From a Picture With Google Lens

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Updated June 27, 2023

Google Lens is a visual search tool that uses image recognition technology to identify objects and text in images and return search results relating to what it “sees” with computer vision.

It is available via the Google Lens app on Android and the Google app on Android and Apple. It is also built into many of Google’s products including Google Chrome, Photos and Assistant.

When to use Google Lens?

Lens has a number of uses, but I’ve found that it’s a particularly useful tool for identifying products that you see “in the wild”, as well as and checking and comparing prices for that product both online and in-store.

I’ve used it to:

  • Find an exact replacement of a exterior light fixture that I don’t know the name or model number of
  • Find the retailer offering the best price on that exterior light fixture (hint: it wasn’t Home Depot)
  • Check if a specialty brick-and-mortar retail store’s prices were competitive with large online retailers
  • Identify a hanging egg chair I saw in an Instagram post
  • Identify the camera and tripod used in a video by my favourite travel YouTuber

If you’re scrolling your phone on social media (Instagram, Facebook, Reddit, Pinterest, etc.) and see a product in a post from a friend, influencer or advertiser that you’d like to buy, you can take a screenshot (see how on Android and Apple) and select the image in Lens to analyze it and return Google Shopping results of similar-looking items from online retailers.

How to take screenshot on your phone

  • Android: Press the Power and Volume down buttons at the same time.
  • Apple: Press the top button and the Home button at the same time. Quickly release both buttons.

Find identical products that have different names with Google Lens

I needed to replace 4 broken and worn out exterior light fixtures and wanted to find the exact same model (if it was still available) so that it would match the others around the house, but I did not know the brand or name of the product because it was original to the house.

I tried searching the best terms I could think of: “white outdoor wall sconce”, but this returned too many results to sift through.

Google Lens, on the other hand returned very similar white outdoor wall lights:

The results get even better if you re-do the Google Lens search using a stock product photo from the manufacturer that retailers are using on their product listings.

Here’s an example of multiple retailers selling the same product using the same photo, making it a good photo to search in Google Lens:

I found the product I was looking for, the Acclaim Lighting Builders’ Choice 16-in x 6-in Textured White Wall Mounted Lantern for $54.99 at Rona:

Acclaim Lighting Builders’ Choice 16-in x 6-in Textured White Wall Mounted Lantern
$54.99 from Rona

or $60 from Home Depot:

Wait, is it the $41.60 Galaxy Lighting Outdoor Wall Light?

Or this $5 A1010-1 from San Remo Lighting?

What are white label products?

Many retailers will sell the exact same (or very similar) product from a manufacturer under their own private label brand – a practice known as white labelling.

Products can be sold under different brands, product names and model numbers and come in unique packaging, making it seem like they are different products, but may be identical coming from the same manufacturer, or even the same factory.

Store brands like Costco’s Kirkland Signature are an example of white labelling. Costco doesn’t manufacture its own products, but will instead buy very similar, if not identical versions of a product in bulk from a manufacturer and sell it in “Kirland Signature” brand packaging. Another is Wyze LED light bulbs, which are manufactured by Tianjin Hualai Technology.

This doesn’t mean the final products from the same manufacturer or factory are of equal quality or value. Costco provides additional value in the form of consistent product quality and competitive pricing, while Wyze adds intuitive, user-friendly software to make the LED bulbs smart.

Find wholesalers, manufacturers and alternative retailers selling the same product

Google Lens can help you push past the more convenient, but higher-priced offerings of major retailers (Walmart, Home Depot, Lowe’s, Amazon) to find alternative small, local retailers with lower prices that may ship to your location or even the wholesaler or manufacturer of a product.

In my case, all I required was that the product looked the same and was certified (cETLus and CSA) for outdoor use.

I found the fixture selling for $5 at San Remo Lighting, far below the $40 to $50 price at home improvement stores.

San Remo Lighting is a family owned lighting wholesaler in Vaughan, ON that was established in 1976. It had decent Google reviews, business listings and was a 2011 Business of the Year finalist according to the Vaughan Chamber of Commerce.

To purchase, I had to give my address and credit card number over email. The cost was $5 each plus HST and shipping by Purolator of $69.42. The shipping may seem high, but the total came to $92.02, which was less than half the cost of buying 4 units from Rona.

Compare in-store prices with online prices while shopping in-store

If you’re shopping in-store, Google Lens can quickly tell you how their prices compare to the best price online and if the store has limited options or stock, what other colours, versions or sizes are available.

I snapped a quick photo of these sandals in a local outdoors store:

And confirmed that their price of $109.99 was the same as what the brand itself was charging:

Refine your search by adding text with Multisearch

If the results aren’t quite what you’re looking for, you can add the colour, brand name, size, or other adjectives to your search to be more specific about what version of a product you’re looking for:

How to spot fake ecommerce websites?

If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.

While searching some manufacturers’ stock product photos, I found websites I hadn’t heard of like and that listed the exact product for prices that were 50% to 90% lower than all other retailers. Since it was a Canadian store (.ca), I thought I’d take a look.

After poking around a bit, things started to seem fishy. All the products on the sites were marked down 50% to 90% to impossible levels: $70 for a recliner, $100 for a sectional, etc.

The address listed is a residential home is in US:

There was no phone number and the email address bounced back:

When I Googled the names of the businesses, there weren’t any business listings.

And yet, the sites accept Paypal and charge in US dollars.

I didn’t end up testing to see if a purchase would go through, though it’s probably safe to assume the website is either non-operational or a scam.

How to use Google Lens?

There are a couple of different icons to look for:

It’s available in:

Android camera app

  1. Open the Camera app and tap the Lens icon in the lower-left corner.
  2. Tap Modes and select Lens.

Google Assistant

  1. Vocally prompt or tap the app icon for Google Assistant.
  2. Say, “Use Google Lens,” or tap the keyboard icon in the lower-right corner and type the same command.

Google Photos

  1. Take a photo or screenshot and upload it to Google Photos.
  2. Go to the photo and tap the Lens icon.

Android phones

The Google Lens icon is on the Google search bar on the home screen of Android phones:

Google Chrome browser

If you’re using Google Chrome browser on a computer or laptop, right click the image and select “Search image with Google“:

Other uses for Google Lens

In addition to finding and shopping for products, Google Lens can:

  • Read and use QR codes
  • Translate text into most languages supported by Google Translate
  • Recognize and recommend items on a menu
  • Calculate tips and split bills

Over to you

I’m interested to know – how have you used Google Lens? What products have you found or shopped for? Share your ideas by leaving a comment below!

About the author

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Alex Wideman
Alex Wideman is a consumer rights advocate, serial entrepreneur and the editor-in-chief of Cansumer. He has a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering from Queen's University. He is passionate about helping others save time and money and has been creating consumer-focused online resources for over 10 years. More about Cansumer Read more

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