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In most parts of the world, Google may be the most dominant search engine, but as search evolves, Google will have to compete with other players for dominance in key vertical search markets.

The stakes, in many cases, are high. The Mountain View-based company's attempted $700m acquisition of ITA Software, for instance, demonstrates just how important vertical search is to Google.

Fashion may not be as important a vertical as travel, but today Google launched an interesting new vertical search effort in the fashion space with the launch of Boutiques.com, "a personalized shopping experience that lets you find and discover fashion goods."

Boutiques.com is the product of former Like.com employees. Earlier this year, Google acquired Like.com, a visual search startup, for a reported $100m or more. That visual search technology is the foundation for Boutiques.com. On the site, fashion lovers can filter their searches by a number of visual criteria, including silhouette, pattern and color.

Additionally, Google "partnered with taste-makers of all types". The Official Google Blog explains:

We asked them not just to curate 10-50 great items they loved, but also to teach our site their style and taste. They did this by telling us what colors, patterns, brands and silhouettes they loved and they hated. They took a visual quiz that taught the site to understand their style genre: Classic, Boho, Edgy, etc. Our machine learning algorithms use this information to enable you to shop all of the inventory in the style of that taste-maker, on top of the 50 items they’ve hand-curated.

Not surprisingly given Google's ownership of the site, there's an advertising-based business model for Boutiques.com; a disclaimer at the bottom of the site's pages notes that "Boutiques.com charges merchants to include products on this website in most cases."

But outside of that -- and the Beta label -- Like.com's influence is apparent. Boutiques.com doesn't look at all like a Google product. The site's design may not be 'cutting-edge' but it's a lot more sophisticated than the relatively sparse and/or utilitarian interfaces we're used to seeing from Google. And Google didn't throw its new site up under a subdirectory like google.com/fashion; it has a fashionable domain name of its own.

The question, of course, is whether Google can succeed with this model. Fashion is a competitive vertical generally, and it will be interesting to see how big a following a standalone site like Boutiques.com can attract. Right now, it doesn't appear that Google has integrated Boutiques.com in any way with Google.com or artificially boosting Boutiques.com's ranking. We'll see if that changes.

Patricio Robles

Published 17 November, 2010 by Patricio Robles

Patricio Robles is a tech reporter at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter.

2392 more posts from this author

Comments (4)

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click asia summit

This is an interesting move from Google i must say. Checked the site just now and i feel it looks great. Loved the page layout and yes you've rightly said that it doesn't look like a Google product at all. Keen to see the response.

almost 6 years ago

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Laura Bazile

Hello Patricio,

Nice article, that is true and plus you catch immediately what is useful. I would say it must NOT look like a Google product, it is probably their purpose (according to me and/or at least for the alpha version), plus some "twitter" tips here and there, am i right? :-)

Laura

almost 6 years ago

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Adam

Very interesting move from Google, wondering how they will focus their marketing efforts around Boutiques - PPC, display or perhaps integrate it into the search results or google products? At the moment the site is not optimised from the SEO side so would be good to see how this is going to progress.

almost 6 years ago

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Saverio Bianchi

It seems to me that Google took the Fashion E-Commerce arena to another level with Boutiques.com. I personally really like the user experience which is way better than most of bricks & mortar retailers' websites out there.

The adaptive system that learns as you use it is definitely powerful, and the whole site once again takes the quite clear direction toward Social Heuristics E-Commerce (or "Social E-Commerce") setting the bar way higher for the user experience of Facebook Stores (by the way you can share a boutique only on Twitter or Email, obviously no Facebook allowed).

All very exciting, but now the KEY QUESTIONS for me are:

1. - What are the SEO rules to rank high in those pages? (even though it is mainly advertisement based)
2. - Are we facing the first "spark" of a massive shift in SEO logics, meaning that we will finally be able to rank high based on images themselves (and not on their file names)?

I'm looking forward to your thoughts out there!

Cheers,

-Saverio

http://uk.linkedin.com/in/saveriobianchi

over 5 years ago

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