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Shireen Qudosi

Meet Boutine: Part Etsy, Part Polyvore

Aug 31 2012, 04:31 PM by

Women continue to dominate the social sphere, especially when it comes to online shopping. A new website evolves the flexibility for e-commerce and vendor outreach by essentially pairing two of the most successful female-dominated destinations – Etsy and Polyvore.
Boutine makes it possible for independent sellers to reach a wider customer base, while catering to Polyvore’s audience, which offers cult homage to a site that exposes, shares and lets users share their fashion prowess. The problem with Polyvore is that it’s based in fantasy land for the average female consumer. Most females cannot afford the designer digs Polyvore often features. Polyvore is also pretty simplistic in its category archive. A search for a simple clothing item can lead to a mass search yield that can’t really be functionally filtered. You’re in luck if you’re looking for a specific item or a specific designer, or want to enter in an item yourself. However, for most people – especially women using the platform for fun or not really in the know with high and low brow finds – this really isn’t an option. And herein lies the problem with Polyvore: You can’t find what you don’t know exists, and even if you do you’re not converted into a buyer.

That’s where Polyvore failed in development. It’s also where Pinterest hinges on failing by not being able to convert users beyond simply directing them to a site, which half of the time is useless to a user’s interests for a number of reasons. And then there’s Etsy, which does get you to buyers but beyond showcasing features and offering decent search filters, doesn’t really connect you with the people you’d be interested in. Their new “groups” feature doesn’t solve the problem either, other than connecting a user with unfiltered hordes of other Etsy buyers and vendors that have no connection with the user. The three, while being popular, anticipate failure through generalizations that fail to push the envelope that last extra bit.

In product or software development, you should always consider how you’d like to market a product or what would best appeal to an audience in order to really understand what your product should be capable of.

Clearly, Boutine has done just that. Boutine allows women to create outfits and accessory pairings – then buy them. It’s a service vendors would clamor to sign up with. What better way to virtually “try on” an outfit from a remote designer you likely would have never met but would have wanted to? What better way for designers to reach an audience they would have needed commercial vendor backing in order to reach?

Boutine was founded by Pramod Dabir, when while at Stanford he lived with six other girls. He noted one would give the other five fashion advice, they would act on it, and he thought why not convert “inspiration and curation” to the internet. Pramod’s timing couldn’t be more impeccable. It’s an idea that would have been before its time even two to three years ago, but now with social sharing, curation and fashion inspiration running the show, the timing is perfect.

But he takes it one step further. Boutine doesn’t just stop at what’s out there; it can start with what’s already in your closet. Users can upload a photo of an item they already have and then use the site to help them build a look around it. Just like Polyvore and Pinterest, you can upload your look into a collection and socially share it.

There’s more. Users can buy the entire outfit then and there through Boutine’s checkout. Vendors get charged a 20% commission and a user’s purchased look earns them a 10% commission. The business models turns fashion lovers into stylists and rewards them for successful behavior patterns that produce sales.

The only downside to Boutine is that it’s still in Beta.

Posted in Social Media, Online Tools and Applications

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