People magazine dives into commerce with ambitious online store

The effort comes as Time Inc.’s revenue decreased 6 per cent year-over-year in the second quarter, led by a 9 per cent decline in advertising dollars.

“The best we can do with print is to stabilise it,” said Jess Cagle, editorial director of People and Entertainment Weekly. “It’s still very important. However, the growth area is in digital, in video, in television development, in e-commerce, in mobile. Those are the areas we really have to look at. People and EW, these are start ups with the greatest head start in the world. So the most important thing is leveraging these brands really smartly.”

In the case of People, that means selling products based on popular editorial content, like pets and the Royal family.

This isn’t People’s first e-commerce foray; it creates videos with Joyus featuring items chosen by People editors. But the People Shop effort goes further than most publishers in that People will be picking and stocking the inventory itself (using a warehouse and fulfillment company in St. Petersburg, Fla., to store and send the goods). Most publisher e-commerce efforts to date have involved putting product links on their sites that take the shopper to the retailer’s page, which is low risk but also low reward.

E-commerce is a tempting way for publishers to build a new revenue stream, but it’s fraught with risks. Commerce can backfire if products are awkwardly juxtaposed with editorial content, as evidenced by The Washington Post’s plopping a buy button into a controversial book review, or if it feels like the publisher is compromising its editorial integrity to sell product. Going the true retail route as People is doing means choosing what products to sell and stock the inventory (not to mention compete with more experienced retailers, including their own advertisers).

Read the full article here

Source: Digiday

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