Tag Archives: online shopping

“You have to be strong to avoid buying things you don’t need or can’t afford.” LOL, isn’t that always the case?!

Fashionistas, will you be checking out Boutiques.com? I will but am skeptical at Google analyzing my fashion tastes. I like to think I’m not that predictable.

Amplify’d from www.wallstreetjournal.com

A Shopping Site Customized to Your Tastes

Shopping is on everyone’s mind this time of year. And with many of us opting to shop from the comfort of our homes on the Web, there have been various services popping up that cater to online shoppers.

I decided to test out Boutiques.com, a personalized shopping site recently launched by Google that analyzes your fashion style and creates a customized “boutique” that suggests a list of clothes, shoes and accessories you might like.

To set up your account, you have to answer a series of questions about your fashion preferences. First you’re presented a series of outfits, two at a time, and you have to select which of the two you like the most. Then you can be more specific about your style by saying which patterns and silhouettes you love or hate when it comes to shirts, pants, dresses and skirts. You also give your sizes and name your favorite designers.

Jonnelle Marte checks out the services offered by Google’s personalized shopping site, Boutiques.com.

According to Boutiques.com, my style is “Casual Chic,” which the site illustrated with brown leather boots, a loose-fitting striped tee and a black cardigan—pretty similar to things I own and wear a lot. But thankfully, I wasn’t limited to this category and could search under other styles, including “Edgy,” “Bohemian” or “Classic” when browsing the site.

For Google’s first fashion foray, the search company has created Boutiques.com, which features curated boutiques by tastemakers and bloggers. One of the hurdles the site faces is how to engineer for taste, WSJ’s Elva Ramirez reports.

I mainly enjoyed the site because the merchandise spanned across a wide range of retailers, and it was pretty easy to sort through it all. I could filter items by price, brand, store, color or designer, among other categories—and there was never a shortage of options. Hovering over an item created a pop-up window with similar items, which I sometimes liked more than the original suggestions. Still I sometimes would have liked a little more flexibility with the filtering options. For example, it would have been nice to be able to browse for multiple colors, but you could only search for one color at a time.

I also really liked that I could be specific about why I loved or hated an item and the site would adapt. If I pointed out that I really loved the color of a pair of boots, I would see more suggestions of shoes in that color. Likewise, if I hated something I could eliminate similar items from future suggestions.

I found the suggestions the site gave me were fairly accurate and for the most part, were things I would wear. But some of the items did not fit my style at all, or I found them to be too plain or too similar. I went back once and adjusted my preferences for styles just to increase the variety of clothing styles in my search results.

It’s pretty easy to go from browsing to shopping because every item is linked directly to a retailer that sells it. Though sometimes I clicked on an item only to find out it was sold out or to be directed to a similar item, that wasn’t identical to the one pictured on Boutiques.com.

Boutiques.com introduced me to some new brands that I liked, something I was hoping it would do because I think I always stick with the same stores and styles when I go shopping. And it also suggested some colorful dresses with funkier patterns than what I would normally go for but that I actually really enjoyed once it showed up in my boutique. The website is good if you are looking for outfit ideas but I wouldn’t make it my main shopping website. If you know exactly what brand or style you’re looking for it might be more efficient to go to a more specialized site, say one for shoes, or directly to a retailer.

I went to a store to try on some of the suggestions to see if they would look as good on me as they did on the site. Not all of the items were a perfect fit, but I did find some items I would buy. I was also reminded that while online shopping is really convenient, sometimes the best deals are still found in the store. One dress I tried on cost about 30% less in the store then it did on the retailer’s website.

So, is Boutiques.com worth it? You have to be strong to avoid buying things you don’t need or can’t afford. And I wouldn’t rule out other shopping sites, since retailers pay to be featured on this website. Still, it’s a fun free service that is easy to use and can get you thinking out of the box when it comes to fashion.

Write to Jonnelle Marte at jonnelle.marte@wsj.com

Read more at www.wallstreetjournal.com


Fashion and @Google are not 2 words I associate… until now. via @WSJTech

Only in the U.S. and only for women – for now. Human curators and visual recognition to provide recommendations…. I’ll be interested to see how well it works.

Amplify’d from www.wallstreetjournal.com

Google Jumps Into Fashion E-Commerce

Aiming to become the first stop for online shoppers of apparel and accessories, Google Inc. launched a fashion e-commerce site Boutiques.com, which uses human curators, visual recognition and machine learning technology to recommend items to shoppers.

The move thrusts the Mountain View, Calif., Internet giant into the rapidly growing online fashion market, an area in which Amazon.com Inc. and eBay Inc. are stepping up their offerings. It’s a lucrative market, with the online apparel and accessories industry hitting $19 billion in the U.S. in 2009, according to comScore Inc., and growing fast.

For Google’s first fashion foray, the search company has created Boutiques.com, which features curated boutiques by tastemakers and bloggers. One of the hurdles the site faces is how to engineer for taste, WSJ’s Elva Ramirez reports.

Boutiques.com doesn’t sell the items, which come from hundreds of online merchants such as Ralph Lauren, Steve Madden and Juicy Couture, but directs shoppers to sites where they can be purchased. Other sites such as Polyvore.com and Kaboodle.com, also are attempting to make shopping and browsing for apparel more fun.

Munjal Shah, a Google product manager, said the company worked with about 100 fashion taste-makers such as celebrities, stylists, and designers to pick out clothing they like and teach Google’s machine-learning algorithms about their style and tastes. Those partners include Oscar de la Renta and retailer Scoop NYC.

Google is developing ways to direct users of the company’s Web-search engine to Boutiques.com when they search for fashion items, Mr. Shah said. The company already has a standalone product-search service that specializes in “hard” goods such as electronics and draws traffic from the main search engine. The product-search site has grown rapidly over the past couple of years, comScore data show, but still lags behind Amazon and eBay in terms of the number of searches it handles.

Shoppers of Boutiques.com will be able to browse for items a particular expert has selected, such as shoulder dresses or high-heeled shoes, as well as any other goods that Google’s algorithms thinks are similar in some way. Shoppers can also build their own personalized boutique and get recommendations of products that match their tastes.

Boutiques.com is similar to Like.com, the visual search site founded by Mr. Shah for shoppers of apparel and other soft goods. Google acquired the site in August for about $100 million, according to people familiar with the matter.

Boutiques.com currently has the same business model used by Like.com, where merchants pay if shoppers end up purchasing the goods on other sites, or sometimes pay a small cost for each time a shopper clicked on their merchandise to learn more. Mr. Shah said the model could change.

Scot Wingo, Chief Executive of ChannelAdvisor Corp., which helps merchants sell goods on Amazon and eBay, said Boutiques.com is a solid first attempt by Google and one that leverages its core strength in search.

“Amazon is becoming so popular in e-commerce that people are going there to start some of their searches,” he said. “This is Google waking up to that threat.”

Boutiques.com is only available in the U.S. and only for women’s fashion, but is expected to expand in the future, Google said.

Write to Amir Efrati at amir.efrati@wsj.com and Scott Morrison at scott.morrison@dowjones.com

Read more at www.wallstreetjournal.com


Technology is great – when it works

  I’m a huge fan of technology – obviously, it’s what I focus on for a living – but when it doesn’t work it’s maddening! I’m pretty busy between running an agency, managing a family with two young children and dealing with three (slightly-maddening) dogs. So when I need gifts I usually order them at the last minute and online. Not the most personal approach but hey, it’s better than forgetting!

So when I skipped the food and went online during my lunch break to order some last minute birthday gifts, I expected it to be quick and easy – food basket, flowers – done. Usually that works. For some reason, tech karma is not on my side today. The first site, 1800flowers.com, kept insisting that my credit card number was wrong – it wasn’t, I checked it about a zillion times. Okay fine, I don’t have time to talk to customer service so I quickly go over to Hallmark. I choose my gifts, add in the addresses and go to pay…and the site keeps crashing. Over and over again that annoying pop up tells me the operation has been aborted. Dreadful words, especially when you are trying to hurry.

So technology today actually slowed me down. It’s great when it works but when it doesn’t – you feel like ripping your hair out. I guess my late birthday gifts will be even more late than usual!

 Where do you buy gifts online? Have any great suggestions? Please share!