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Shueisha general manager: Print audience fuels ecommerce model

The largest publisher in Japan, Shueisha, realised it was time to enhance its offering when it witnessed online sales overtaking print in 2007. But developing its own ecommerce offering would be easier said than done…

Chie Ogura ()

Chie Ogura, general manager, ecommerce at Shueisha was faced with this dilemma when trends showed the desirability of online media: 

Ad sales Japan ()

At the time, Shueisha already published several successful fashion print brands, including Flag Shop (circ. 10,000), which led them to consider developing an ecommerce site to accompany it. “Online retail was not a traditional business for a publisher,” said Ogura, speaking today at FIPP Asia. “We considered outsourcing this activity to a third party, which would have been a low risk for a low return.”

However, when it came to execution, the Flag Shop team decided to build their own system, creating a specialist team for the job. After US$3m worth of investment over six years, Flag Shop online was born. And what was surprising for the team, said Ogura, was the amount of data they could capture as opposed to print. “To have behavioural and buying data allowed us to interact ‘one to one’ with our audience and gave us a lot more in-depth information,” she added. “Data analysis has changed the way we work, it was never available (or appreciated enough) in the past. It’s very important to know your customers.” 

Flag Shop ()

“Once we have the data, we can customise the site with data analysis, to enable efficient marketing.” 

Although a risk initially, not to mention a huge investment, Ogura said the fact that the brand had a print heritage helped to have an edge over competitors. “Flag Shop is supported by loyal magazine readers,” she said, “we can use professional photography from the magazine to advertise products in the online shop, and we can tie-up advertising over both platforms. Although a risk, it’s clear that take advantage of the brand’s print network to come up with original products has paid off.

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