Wednesday, 13 April 2011

I'm Feeling Lucky

I never thought artificial intelligence and fashion could mix, but it appears Google have proved me wrong.  With retailers evolving from traditional bricks and mortar shop fronts, to online form, Google now present the next wave in e-commerce. Launching their online shopping experience in November last year, Google’s Boutiques ( is a “smart” shop. It tracks a person’s tastes by monitoring the things they look at in the online “boutiques”, and what they buy.  It then forms a profile of the person and suggests items to them based on their style.

This isn’t the first time Google have used this technology. The Google ads featured on gmail, Internet sites and blogs, scan for key words and display ads based on those key words.  This form of tailoring technology can be quite effective as it provides targeted marketing to viewers.

What makes Google Boutiques unique is that you can shop the “boutiques” of designers, celebrities and fashion bloggers. Therefore, if you have a particular style icon, you get easy access to the items they have picked for themselves.  The site is currently limited to women’s fashion but there are plans to expand.

In order to set up the site, Google sort the assistance of a range of fashion trend-setters to share top picks and to “teach” the website about their individual styles.  They did this by identifying what colours, patterns, brands and silhouettes they loved and hated.

Specific learning algorithms use this information to enable shoppers to search a range of products selected based on the style of that taste-maker, on top of the 50 items they’ve hand selected. aims to take the fuss out of shopping by reducing search times for users. Instead of having to trawl through shops and online stores to find items that suit their taste, with the click of a button, Google algorithms lets shoppers filter thousands of items via size, genre, pattern, colour and shape.  You can also browse boutiques customized by celebrity, designer, blogger, retailer, trend, style genre, featured, popular and recent. Search tools also allow users to workout which bag or shoes will match and outfit.

Was does Google Boutiques mean for “traditional” online shops such as Net-A-Porter and Shopbop? When new competition comes into the market, establish brands have to evolve or risk becoming redundant. This may mean more online retailers will move towards “smart shopping”, providing a more tailored shopping experience for their consumers.  As people are time poor, they are increasingly looking for ways to save time.  If Google Boutique can provide an effective tailored service, who’s to say it can’t become the one-stop shop for fashion consumers.

Although good in theory, it remains to be seen whether the Google Boutique site takes off.  Still in the beta version, Google will need to get higher profile celebrities and trend-setters on board to make the site credible in the fashion world.

However, with proven success in the technology world, don’t be surprised if Google Boutiques becomes the next big thing in fashion.

Stay tuned for a post on BeachMint, the company successfully adopting the trend of personalised shopping.

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