Boutiques.com, Google’s new shopping portal, launched this morning — and as expected, it is a game-changer for online retail. The site, which is currently only offering women’s clothing and accessories and is only available in the U.S., uses a unique mix of “computer vision and machine learning technology to visually analyze your taste and match it to items you would like.” In other words, it has an algorithm that brings what you want to buy directly to your computer (or iPad) screen.
To begin using Boutiques.com, you must submit to a style analyzing tool they’ve created — users are presented with two images side by side, and asked to select which is “MORE my style” (there’s also an option to skip a batch if neither of them works for you). After selecting 30 images, you’re pegged as either “classic,” “romantic,” “casual chic,” “edgy,” “street,” or “boho.” You can filter your searches by color, size, type, and pattern, and use your finds to create your own boutique — which you can then share with your friends.
As was whispered about pre-launch, Google has managed to get a wide range of celebrities, designers, and big-name bloggers to create individual boutiques on the site. Notables include singer Eve, actress Jane Krakowski, the Olsen twins, blogger Jane of Sea of Shoes, and designer Yigal Azrouel.
The site is an indicator of a sea change in the way consumers approach online shopping. Instead of heading to an individual retailer or brand to shop, people are encouraged to shop by style. Like the way a certain celebrity looks? You can shop based on that same look — or based on color (say, olive green) or specific style (side-zip boots). Price ranges are all over the place — one page displayed boots ranging from $40 to $1,200.
The site is still in Beta stages, and isn’t without its flaws – check back for a “best and worst aspects of Boutiques.com” later.
It should be noted that Google isn’t the only ones making this “change the way you shop online” move — startup Svpply.com operates in much the same way (well, without the celebrity angle). We think shops like this, as well as algorithms like this, will not only change shopper behavior, but also the way that designers and chains think about e-commerce — not to mention profits.