Today, Google announced Boutiques.com – a personalized fashion shopping experience that lets users find ensemble advice and caters to the need for rich visual details when buying apparel online. Retail marketers may like the site's potential to strengthen the appearance of their products, and all brands might appreciate the visual and social implications this site has for other purchase-related search developments.
When users visit Boutiques.com, they might not realize it is a Google site – it lacks traditional Google branding. Instead, they'll find apparel content from major brands, as well as from independent retailers. Plus, they'll see some top celebrity fashionistas they can "follow" for fashion inspiration.
In addition to celebs, users can "follow" designers, retailers, trends and bloggers on the site. A number of the featured bloggers seems to be associated with lesser-known fashion brands, which should be good news for marketers. The ability to connect to retail thought leaders gives Boutiques.com a distinctively social feel, much like Google's recently launched Hotpot – the local "recommendation engine."
Shoppers who see something they like can take advantage of visual search and result refinements to find their desired garments and make purchases. The detailed product pages are a culmination of Google’s acquisition of the visually focused Like.com, which Brafton reported months ago.
On product pages, users can decide whether they "love" or "hate" something. If they choose to rate a product, they're asked if they like or dislike aspects such as the brand, color, silhouette, price and more – presumably to tailor future search experiences. They can also "share" a product via email or Twitter, making it easy for visitors to become brand advocates.
Boutiques.com could be just the beginning of Google's enhanced online shopping experiences, and more socially/ visually oriented product sites could easily crop up for other industries. With this in mind, marketers must remember the value of creating meaningful image content and blog content if they aspire to get their brands featured on Google shopping sites.
In fact, visual content could soon be essential to catching clicks in standard Google searches. The Wall Street Journal recently reported that Google is testing a picture-search marketing feature targeted at mobile searchers.