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When Black Friday Comes, Yahoo! and Tippr beat Google and Groupon (-icus), Amazon Visual Search vs. Boutiques.com!

Sometimes the plucking of E-commerce strings seems as syncopated and well-orchestrated as a Keiratsu quartet. This week it’s Google’s Boutiques.com and Amazon’s new Visual Search, closely rivaled by a rumored Google merger with Groupon and Yahoo!’s partnering with serial entrepreneur Martin Tobias and Tippr.com.

While Boutiques.com, and its radically advanced visual search capabilities according to genre, silhouette, pattern, color families and sizes, may not keep very many shoppers away from women’s couture this coming Black Friday, the “design your own” personal style “Store” is a pretty compelling alternative to long checkout lines and picked over apparel.

Boutiques.com offers a variety of features to search and discover merchandise. Besides the many-splendored Advanced Search filter, Inspiration Photos help to match the outfit ideas to the right of the search results. Complete the Look feature helps to develop a tool to suggest the items that match with the outfit. The Visual Search helps to analyze the photograph of an item for it’s colour shape and pattern. You can also download an iPad app for Boutiques.com.

Amazon’s A9 also has its eye on the fashion world. With its new “shape picker” technology, finding the right pair of shoes becomes even easier for customers.  Bill Stasior, president of A9, explained: “The customer is presented with a palette of shapes, representing different styles of shoes and that palette is constantly changing to match the customer’s context. Because the styles are shown graphically as silhouettes, customers don’t even need to know the name of the styles they are exploring.”

The shape picker relies heavily on global and local shape contour descriptors, as well as texture descriptors, computed using algorithms developed at A9.com. This same idea of helping customers find visually similar items is also manifested in the “Items That Look Like This” feature on the product detail pages.

Google is in a year-end shopping mode, to say the least.  Spurned in its less-than-formal offer to buy Twitter for somewhere between $2.5 and $4 billion, the Googleplex is as flush with cash as Steve Ballmer is lately,  Eyeing Groupon’s deals of the day could seem like  the deal of the decade to Mountainview. Owning the hot space around local purchasing and consumer information, combined with the social element, would be a tasty treat for Google. But there is at least one major obstacle in a possible Google purchase of Groupon: even more regulatory scrutiny by the federal government.   Google narrowly missed getting approval for its $750 million purchase of mobile advertising start-up AdMob.

Across town in Sunnyvale, Yahoo! announced its partnership with Seattle-based Tippr.com, one of the largest group buying sites on the Internet,as part of  Yahoo!’s new Local Offers program. The alignment exposes Tippr.com’s popular daily deals to Yahoo’s massive audience, and provides unprecedented value to Tippr.com merchants who will now have exposure to the nearly 200 million monthly visitors to Yahoo.com.

The partnership is also a big win for publishers like Belo Corp, who has its own daily deal site, Yollar.com, operated by PoweredByTippr, Tippr’s patented, industry-first, white-label, group buying platform. Through this partnership between Tippr and Yahoo!, Belo and all other PoweredByTippr publishers now have the option to promote their own daily deals through Yahoo!’s Local Offers program to reach millions of potential customers.

“Our partnership with Yahoo! means more consumers are getting more deals, and more merchants are getting more customers,” said Martin Tobias, founder and chief executive officer of Tippr. “The best part is that any publisher using the PoweredByTippr platform can expose their own branded group buying site to the Yahoo! audience with the proverbial flip of a switch. This is something no other group buying site can offer its partners.” For more information on Tippr’s white-label group buying platform, visitwww.PoweredByTippr.com.

Can online deals revive the economy by driving holiday shoppers to offline savings? Groupon recently offered an unheard of price of $25 for a $50 gift card to Nordstrom Rack.  We’ve never seen Nordstrom Rack offer that kind of deal. But it was real!  For holiday gifting, Groupon has just launched a new themed site called Grouponicus. Opening today, the store will add a deal at 50-90% off every day for the next five weeks (totaling 650 deals). Unlike normal Groupon deals which go off market in 24 hours, Grouponicus offers will be available for three to five days. Furthermore, the site will preview upcoming gifts.

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