Last week, in a move that’s bound to puzzle Wall Street analysts, Google introduced a new site that is meant to make online shopping for fashion products more exciting and interesting. They are touting it as the intersection of chic and geek and have called it Google Boutiques.
It is an accepted fact that online shopping for standardised products such as electronic gadgets and furniture is quite easy nowadays. However, when it comes to clothes and accessories the decision-making process is quite complex because of the wide variety of choices available.
To help users with this, Google has formed a team consisting of experts in computer vision as well as fashion designers and stylists. The end result of their endeavours is Boutiques.com. This site allows users to go through a range of curated products.
Boutique.com’s algorithm will also suggest items to the user, based on the user’s known preferences. Other items or accessories that will go well with that product may also be suggested. The list of curated items available is categorised by colour, style, designer, celebrity, trend, retailer, blogger and silhouette. The styles are classified as “Classic”, “Boho”, “Edgy” and so on.
This site is unlike any other Google-owned property. Search is not even a prominent part of the site! Instead, the site looks like any other clothing retailer’s website, with a few added features.
Google Boutiques home page
Users can also search for items of their preference using a mix and match attitude, based on their own likes and dislikes. Certain rules of style, such as not mixing vertical stripes with horizontal stripes or not using heavily patterned bags with heavily patterned dresses etc. are also provided on the site.
Good theory, poor execution
Google’s prowess at matching user behaviour with likes is fairly evident here. However, what the site gains in terms of algorithmic excellence and social interaction, it looses in terms of actual attractiveness, usability and effectiveness. The site might help users to find new products and will also add more information to Google’s algorithm, but it does not present an exceptional shopping experience.
Manjul Shah, Director of Product Management at Google, says, “Shopping for clothes is about discovery and not just search. You go into a store looking for one thing and you might come out with nine other things too. We needed to find a way to create that ‘bump into’ experience.”
At present Boutiques.com is available only in the U.S. and has a very limited repertoire dealing in Women’s clothes, but they hope to expand their services soon.
Shopping for a product on Boutiques.com brings up an error page