by Paul Foy
Internet search engine giant Google, will this Wednesday delve into the fashion business by a launching a new website, believed to be called boutiques.com.
The fashion industry is the fourth largest industry globally, with revenues cautiously estimated at £310 billion worldwide. It is believed to be worth £37 billion in the UK alone, meaning this has the potential to be a very lucrative move for Google.
The fashion industry publication Women’s Wear Daily (WWD), reports that Google is not planning to sell directly to clients itself, instead the website will direct users towards already established retailers such as Asos.
The site will feature a live data feed from its retail partners, allowing pictures to appear and making the site look like a high end boutique rather than a search results page.
Fashion designers such as Tory Birch and Oscar de la Renta have been hired to set up there own virtual shops within the site, along with Sarah Jessica Parker, Katie Holmes and various other celebrities.
Users will be encouraged to establish profiles, in which they will add their preferences, and will hence be easier to successfully target with selective advertising and marketing efforts.
Google is not alone in trying to tap the fashion market; ebay recently launched fashion specific areas, although it is doubtful that this will have the same appeal to advertisers as Google’s effort.
Traditionally, there are items that do not sell well online, such as high end fashion, top quality jewelery and antiques, but this is clearly changing.
Plans for a similar idea for an art-sales website, Art.sy, backed by Rupert Murdoch’s wife Wendi Deng, Google’s Eric Schmidt, Roman Abramovich’s girlfriend Dasha Zuhkova and super-dealer Larry Gagosian were leaked last week.
But just how much sophisticated consumers of art or fashion are willing to buy online remains unclear. As one fashion executive told WWD: “It’s incumbent upon us to be open to and explore new areas. In the business sense, the bricks-and-mortar business is not growing by leaps and bounds. It’s become more of a market share question.”