Hearst International president Duncan Edwards has described the various online shopping experiments the company is running to the FT’s Vanessa Friedman. There have been many such attempts by publishers, Happy, for example was a shopping magazine and website from Northern & Shell in 2005.
- ShopBazaar in the US is a website linked to Harper’s Bazaar that allows uses to buy products mentioned in the monthly fashion magazine. Condé Nast has competing efforts from Lucky and Allure.
- In Japan, there is an Elle magazine shop. This is independent of the magazine and has broken even after about two years. Monocle has its own shops selling branded goods as well as a website.
- In China, Hearst has an Elle site that links to different vendors, but brings buyers back to a common check-out.
Edwards reckons that ‘On average, of the 1,000 users who visit an esite from a magazine, only one converts into a buyer.’
These experiments in ‘monetising’ magazine brands leave Friedman feeling ‘queasy’ because of the blurring of the lines between editorial and commercial activities but some would argue the line was crossed many years ago by the big fashion magazines.