Online shopping

Google to launch Boutiques.com fashion site



On Wednesday, Google will unveil an exciting new fashion initiative which has already got the internet in a tizzy. Latest reports suggest it’s a curated etail site utilising the celebrity ‘get the look’ features common in most mainstream fashion publications. Influential fashion bloggers (is Susie Bubble one of them?) are reported to have also been invited to select pieces from brands like Oscar de la Renta, Tory Burch and Isaac Mizrahi to drive sales on the site. Curated fashion is certainly the way forward in fashion retail as we are bombarded with more and more choice. I can’t wait to see what Google has in store.

UPDATE: Read The New York Times’ take on Boutiques.com here



ASOS launches Marketplace



Pioneering as ever, Asos.com is poised to launch its brand new Marketplace just in time for the holiday season. A place where an individual can sell off their own unwanted fashion wares or a store can set up its online space, it’s a timely poke in the eye to Ebay and its increasingly unfriendly attitude to independent sellers. The only stipulation to individual sellers in the Marketplace is the merchandise must be photographed ‘street style’, so none of your dingy still life pics, these need to be styled on a human body, preferably in an interesting way in order to get the most exposure on the Asos site.

Taking its cue from sites like Lookbook.nu, Asos has tapped into the consumers’ desire for wearable styling ideas and personal context. Sellers are encouraged to shoot their pictures in photogenic scenarios to make them as ‘editorial’ looking as possible. The picture/item can be ‘liked’ which will place it highly in searches. The selling process is straightforward. A price is set and payment is made by Paypal with Asos taking 10% of the sale price.

A big draw of the Marketplace will be the ’boutique’ of vintage sellers. Selected vintage retailers can upload their logo and product (again, styled on people in situ) and merchandise their area as they see fit to make the space their own.

For designers and retailers, there is the opportunity to set up shop in the Marketplace. When the site launches (ETA mid-end November), Browns Focus and Faster by Mark Fast wil be among the first retailers/designers with a presence. “We want to help small businesses grow,” I was told by an Asos rep at the press day this morning. “This way we can build a platform that exposes small businesses to our vast database.”



Go create: Mango’s Mix and Match tool



As etailers increase their editorial content and editorial sites flirt with ecommerce, things are becoming very interesting for the consumer. For starters, I’m loving Mango’s how-to tutorials – beautifully shot, engaging and genuinely useful. But this post is about Mango’s Mix & Match tool.

We all appreciate playful tools like Polyvore and etailers are showing great innovation in making these styling toys work for customers in a way that translates to sales. The point of editorial content on etail sites is to keep customers coming back (and hopefully spending), so dress-up styling tools are a simple way to make that happen. Let me make this clear – they are completely addictive! And Mango’s has a ‘share’ button so you can spread the love, get a second opinion and get your friends addicted too.

I had a play and came up with this Chloe-meets-Luella equestrian affair in a palette of camel, inky denim and powder blue. Classic, unfussy and just-feminine-enough. Even better would be some tools to play with hair and make-up. Wouldn’t a scribble of YSL’s Rouge Pur Couture Le Rouge lipstick have been the perfect beauty accessory?

How would you improve this outfit? More accessories? More colour? More pizzazz? Comment below…

[This is a sponsored post]



Claire’s embraces haul vloggers



Clever Claire’s has tapped into the haul vlogger trend with a shiny new website. One of the first fashion brands to harness the power of haul vloggers, the Claire’s team trawled the streets of America scouting for girls to video blog for the site. The strangely addictive Youtube craze whereby teen girls hit the malls then upload a ‘shop and tell’ video blog is a perfect fit for a youth-focused brand like Claire’s. The retailer’s three brand ambassadors blog and vlog on its site, (hopefully) building a cult following and doling out tips and advice to current and future customers. There’s also a chance for wannabe vloggers to nominate themselves as a future ‘Claire’s Curator’.

It makes total sense to me for retailers to engage with their customers by inviting them to say nice things about their products on their sites (I’m guessing these teens are paid, if not in cold, hard cash, then surely in clothes). Customers trust the opinion of other consumers and especially when the gushing comes in the form of an authentic, home-made looking video. It also doesn’t hurt that the products being raved about are also featured alongside the blog posts to instantly click and buy.

As young consumers tire of celebrities, it seems likely that a new type of ‘blog star’ might take over. The benefit of haul vlogging – a bit like QVC – is it brings the personality closer to the consumer, allowing for a more engaging user experience. With the news that Forever 21 is about to land in the UK, I wonder when we’ll start to see UK youth retailers utilising haul tactics on their websites.