On Boutiques.com And Why Brands Need A Content Syndication Strategy

Last week, The New York Times broke the news that Google is launching a new eCommerce platform targeting fashion brands: Boutiques.com: http://nyti.ms/9DlCu. (Disclaimer: I worked for four and a half years at Google, but I was not involved in this project.)

 The launch pushes the envelope of how technology can help consumers navigate and discover fashion products and trends by:

  • Taking vertical search accuracy to the next level.
  • Using social as a centerpiece of the experience, giving celebrities, fashion bloggers, and ultimately everybody the capability to create a "personal boutique" with the fashion items they love for all to have a peek.
  • Taking advantage of the latest visual search technology that helps users in mixing and matching colors, patterns, and trends.

I think that the approach to product discovery of Boutiques.com is a very interesting development in eCommerce as well as for brand marketers. Why?

  • Boutiques.com offers a much richer way for consumers to explore brands online by shifting the focus from product to the context in which the product will be ultimately used. I would expect Google to target notoriously difficult categories to contextualize like furniture and cars.
  • Data, data, data . . . retail aggregators like Boutiques.com have the opportunity to develop unique insights on demand trends that many brands will be happy to pay for.
  • As cross-brand navigation becomes an easier and rewarding experience, the current cornerstone of today’s brand digital presence — the Web site — will face increasing competition from innovative retail formats, and as a result, brands will need to develop a syndication strategy for their branded content across platforms.

Do you think that a good syndication strategy for branded content will help brands in managing the increasing fragmentation of their branded message both offline and online?

Comments

Boutiques.com

Luca - It seems to me that Boutiques.com really shines when it uses its visual engine to find affordable alternatives to exclusive designer pieces. To get some perspective from a few of Google’s targeted shoppers; I asked a couple of my fashionista friends to weigh in. A couple of the initial reactions were interesting:

1. There’s a learning curve: The alternative approach to presenting product is interesting, but there was initial confusion about what was really expected from the visitor. Is it a shopping site? Is it an online fashion mag? Is it celebrity-flavored fashion voyeurism? The shopping experience seems just different enough that Google should expect shoppers to work through an adoption curve.

2. There’s an opportunity for editorial: With these expertly constructed collections and a magazine-esque layout, the site essentially stamps itself as a fashion authority. Is this collection fall inspired? How should I wear these pieces? Who else is wearing this style right now? It seemed that each new boutique just begs for a bit of editorial perspective.

Obviously these are just some initial reactions, and Boutiques.com still has the BETA designation attached. But one fact is for certain; Boutiques.com demands much more engagement from its shoppers than what single brand boutique sites require.

boutiques.com

Hi Rick,
thanks for your comment.
I think both your points are valid:
- user adoption curve: very different from the existing fashion trend exploration process as we know it. At the same time, the motivation to learn could how to use it could be string enough: easily find affordable alternatives to exclusive designer pieces.
- editorial opportunity: TOTALLY agree and maybe my post was not clear enough. What I was trying to convey is that if this kind of exploration tools take hold, brands need to define a syndication strategy to be visible with their branded content to target not only magazines and bloggers but also these kind of platforms.

As an 'extreme' strategy, I would consider if there is space here for brands to have their direct presence presence, as they have on Facebook, to take their stand on what the fall trends will be like and even highlight product combinations that include items from competitors...

Still in beta with a lot of potential consequences...
Luca