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Product/Service Name

Modista

Brief Description

Modista is a visual search for shoes and fashion accessories (for men, women, and kids) that applies computer vision technology (patent-pending) to enable product discovery. Rather than navigating text-based menus and scrolling through lists and lists of results like most other shopping sites, Modista allows you to simply use your visual intuition. For example, you can click on a product image to see similar-looking items, and then compare them at a glance. Target audience: visual search engine for fashionistas.

Modista.com

Modista.com

The Inspiration

According to the owners, Arlo Faria and AJ Shankar, who are two Computer Science Ph.D. students at UC Berkeley, the inspiration came from their girlfriends, who love shoes and wanted a better way to browse the thousands of styles available online. So they tried to improve the user experience by making it fast and easy — and fun. (AJ/Arlo: you just raised the bar on the things we have to do to make the women in our lives happy.)

Key Features

  • Product inventory: aggregates products from multiple online retailers (currently Zappos, 6pm.com, Shoes.com, and Endless).
  • Visual product discovery: browse thumbnails of products (currently shoes, handbags, eyewear, and watches); click on an item that catches your eye and view similar items in a grid format; and mouse-over items to view the brand, price, and retailer information in a pop-up or click on the magnifying glass next to the thumbnail to bring up more detailed information such as product description, available sizes, and link to the online retailer where you can purchase from.
  • Product search filtering: filter products by price, discount, size, color, retailers, brand, and description.

Benefits

More efficient way of shopping for particular shoe and fashion accessory styles. For example, you want to find a shoe color that matches your favorite handbag or want a certain style but at a cheaper price.

Costs

Free service. No registration is required.

Similar Products/Services

Modista is similar to Like.com, with the major difference being that Like.com allows you to upload a photo of the product you’re looking for and discover similar items based on its visual characteristics (color, shape, and pattern).

Opinions from around the Web

  • Positive: “Thank you, thank you, Modista.  You have not only made shoe-shopping so much more effective for those (like me) who shop “by feel,” but you’ve also turned it into a fun fun game.” (ShoeBlog.com)
  • Positive: “If you’re used to browsing the aisles of a shoe store with some idea of what you’re looking for or just checking out what’s available, then Modista might be a better way to shop online.” (Lifehacker.com)
  • Positive: “…[T]hose who like their online shopping experience to be as rich and including as possible are likely to enjoy a visit to this portal, if only because of the flexible comparison process at play.” (KillerStartup.com)

Company Background

Modista is owned and operated by Ugmode, Inc., based in Berkeley, CA. It launched earlier this year as a beta service and just recently transitioned to full release. Based on the Compete.com November 2008 traffic statistics, Modista.com received around 10,000 unique visitors. Currently, no financial information on the company is available.

Smartlife’s User Advice

Modista represents a ground-breaking way of shopping online: it replicates the visual element of the in-store shopping experience online. If you’re a fashionista, this site will definitely help save you time and money, especially if you’re like some of my friends who’ve been reluctant to embrace online shopping because it lacks the visual elements necessary to make “fashionable” purchase decisions. (If touch and feel is still important to you, then ask AJ’s and Arlo’s girlfriends to prod them into developing sensory shopping technology.)

What can Modista do to help us get even more out of our shopping lives? Right now, the site only allows you to price-compare items with similar styles. I’d like to be able to price-compare a specific-styled item that I want across multiple retailers and more than just six.

Now, if you’re a shopper principally concerned with getting the best price or deal around, and not so much with style, then I recommend using sites such as DealCatcher.com. You can also use Modista in conjunction with sites like the one just mentioned to maximize your fashion and bargain-hunting results.

Smartlife’s Recommendation: USE IT

What’s your recommendation?

Image credit: cristimatei / iStockphoto

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Product Watch is part of an on-going series that cuts through the sales propaganda and marketing hype, and reviews products and services from the standpoint of the user and how they actually help us get more out of life.