Google on Wednesday took the wraps off Boutiques.com, a personalized shopping experience that lets consumers find and discover styles and fashions through collections put together by celebrities, stylists, designers and fashion bloggers.
The Web site analyzes consumer styles through a series of clicks, Google Trend data, computer vision, and machine learning to analyze the site visitor's taste. It allows the site visitor to discover fashion that she may have not known exists.
Google engineers built the technology to "teach" its computer systems to understand patterns, pairings and genre definitions. When signed into your account, the site learns about style and preferences, and in turn provides better results and recommendations.
Google acquired the technology about three months ago from the Like.com acquisition, according to a Google spokesperson. The company already had the project well underway. Boutiques.com offers a combination of search and the ability to browse items similar to a brick-and-mortar in-store experience. Before it was acquired, Like.com launched WhatToWear.com, a bit of a takeoff on the TLC hit series "What Not To Wear." "It's about how people search, find and purchase fashion items," the spokesperson says.
The site aims to build awareness for new styles and fashions of up-and-coming designers, as well as those who are already established. There's also a crowdsourcing element. Consumers are invited to sign up and create their own boutiques, and allow others to follow their sense of fashion and style.
Rob Griffin, SVP and global director of search and analytics at Havas Digital, says targeting exists -- but instead of targeting ads, Google targets content and merchandise. "Media6Degrees now offers site and landing page optimization based on social data, so the two companies seem to be taking a similar direction," he says. "That direction is about taking ad-targeting technology and using it for optimizing a site experience."
Click on the "Your Boutique" tab and the site runs through a variety of snapshots of clothing, asking the consumer to click on their style. At the end of the process, Boutiques.com gives the consumer a label. For example, a "BOHO" may identify with bohemian fashion from decades past, but Google suggests the look is anything but dated. Vintage prints paired with contemporary silhouettes are the keys to everyday ensembles. The site calls BOHOs a mix master of feminine details, inspired by eclectic accessories. Not just a trend, the Boho signature style expresses a carefree indie spirit.
Google allows site visitors to create an account to save and share fashion items placed in "love" and "hate" categories. A built-in preview function helps consumers see similar items or purchase the product. And the prices are all over the map. In the shoe category, for example, consumers can choose from Valentino's lace masterpieces or Christian Louboutin's red-heeled works of art to a more casual and affordable Ralph Lauren.
While there is no advertising on the site, clicking on the photo takes the site visitor to a variety of online stores such as Neiman Marcus or Nordstrom, depending on the retailer offering the item.
More companies have begun to pay attention to online retail sales and service. As advertisers shift ad campaigns from offline to online, conversions and sales appear to maintain a steady upward trend. Internet ad revenue in the U.S. rose 17% to $6.4 billion in Q3, compared with the year-ago quarter, according to the latest figures from the Interactive Advertising Bureau and its research partner PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC).
The IAB pegged Q2 Internet advertising revenue in the U.S. at $12.1 billion in the first half of 2010, setting a record representing a 11.3% increase from the prior year.
While today the site only offers a fashion experience for women, Google says to expect a section for men in the near future.