Google on Wednesday unveiled Boutiques.com, a shopping site designed to help users find clothes and other items that suit their personal tastes.
Different from how people buy cameras and other so-called “hard goods,” fashion shopping is about discovering something that fits their taste and feels right, Munjal Shah, Google’s product management director, said in a blog post.
Boutiques.com is looking to change the way people buy clothing and accessories online, by using a concept known as visual search, as well as giving users the option of creating their own “boutique” to serve as a filter to find items that fit into a person’s personal tastes.
The site comes primarily from Google’s acquisition of the technology and product team behind Like.com, a visual search engine. Munjal Shah, co-founder and CEO of Like, helped to push Boutiques.com out the door based largely on technology that Like.com was already developing when Google began to view it as a potential acquisition target.
“I’ve always been impressed with Like.com,” said Sucharita Mulpuru, who is a vice president and retail analyst at Forrester Research and is familiar with the work on Boutiques.com. “I was just floored by the technology back then, and it’s evolved since. They’ve just honed the algorithm.”
With boutiques.com, users can find and discover fashion goods by creating their own curated online boutique or through a collection of boutiques curated by taste-makers such as celebrities, stylists, designers and fashion bloggers.
The site offers a variety of features for users to search and discover merchandise including visual search, and users can filter the search results by genre, silhouette, pattern, color or sizes.
NY Times’ writer Cathy Horyny writes: “You can shop in the style of, say, the actresses Carey Mulligan or Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen — among the celebrities who signed up — or you can build your own boutique and amass followers who can comment on your taste.”
In every boutique on the site, there are dozens of additional choices inspired by a designer’s or celebrity’s style — generated by algorithms — with product photos that are much larger and sharper than on other shopping sites.
Online sales have generally outpaced brick-and-mortar sales, and fashion online shopping isn’t an exception. “I feel e-commerce in the last 12 months has caught a second wind,” Ms. Mulpuru said.
According to Forrester, Internet sales of apparel and accessories this year will account for 14 percent, or $25 billion, of the $173 billion that Americans will spend online.
Mr. Shah is the team leader for Boutiques.com, with a left brain-right brain group of technicians and tastemakers. As he said in interviews conducted over the last week: “Online fashion shopping has to be universal and curatorial at the same time. This is an answer.”
Despite the number of products a search on Boutiques.com kicks out, the response time is very fast, and choices appear on extra-long pages so you don’t have to keep clicking. Virtually every kind of information is analyzed — price, brand, color and so on.
The site also includes a system called “Complete the Look,” for which Ms. Goodman wrote “a ton of rules,” Mr. Shah said, “and our computer vision and machine learning guys implemented them.”
Among the designers who signed up are Tory Burch, Oscar de la Renta and Isaac Mizrahi, who plans to offer signature pieces like a plaid cocktail dress and a military coat.
Famous fashion bloggers include Bryan Boy and Rumi Neely of Fashiontoast. Other celebrities, whom Google said it has paid to host boutiques, are Claire Danes, Ashlee Simpson and Nicole Richie.
By the way, Google authenticates the celebrity boutiques, so imposters be warned. Retailers include Neiman Marcus, Barneys New York, Shopbop, Net-a-Porter and Scoop NYC.