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‚’Shoppable magazines’ help drive retail revolution

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Magazines have been experimenting with digital versions of their print editions in order to generate more revenue. But now there is a new concept called shoppable magazines, which redefines the way readers consume, read and ultimately purchase fashion and products, writes KRISHNA MOTUKURI, CEO of spree.co.za

As magazines rapidly evolve to keep up with changes in publishing, more and more titles are experimenting with digital versions of the printed magazine, editorial websites and paywalls or locked down content some with more success than others. A new concept that is being explored internationally, and now locally, is the ‚”shoppable magazine‚”.

It is no secret that advertisement revenues are falling at a dizzying rate. This foray into e-commerce, by making a magazine ‚”shoppable‚”, is proffered as the answer to some of the significant challenges faced by the magazine industry. However, the concept does not only pertain to magazines that offer online versions of their paper titles it also refers to retailers that are moving into an editorial space with their e-commerce offering. Thus the term ‚”shoppable magazine‚” refers first and foremost to an editorially-inspired, engaged user experience – rather than simply a digital version of a magazine.

The shoppable magazine concept marks a transition in online shopping, redefining the way in which people read about, consume and ultimately purchase fashion. Online shopping is becoming less about lists of products in sterile rows with a price tag and the obligatory ‚”add to cart‚” button, and more about storytelling and inspiration. Building a destination that combines editorial content and retail offerings, consumers are presented with beautiful fashion spreads and inspired fashion shoots as they would be in a printed publication, but are able to buy the products instantly to create the look themselves. Leading fashion editors are joining this movement into magazine-style ecommerce, and as a result trust and credibility is established by retailers, and consumers are responding.

Where implemented intelligently and intuitively, successful content-producing retailers are creating and curating the fashion magazine of the future, defining a space where beautiful editorial content and commerce converge and offering consumers a seamless path from inspiration to purchase.

While the shoppable magazine concept has developed into something of a global trend, it is still relatively new in South Africa. The question posed to the media houses taking the ecommerce plunge is whether shoppable magazines are a viable option in this country, where shopping online for clothes is a relatively new experience for consumers.

For many of these consumers, online shopping allows them a purely functional and convenient shopping experience. If they visit an ecommerce site, it is with a specific product in mind a book, a DVD, a plane ticket. If it is inspiration they are after, they are likely to look for it in the pages of a magazine or on TV, and then visit shopping malls to find the desired items they have spied in media elsewhere.

Shoppable magazines aim to change that and a cursory glance at the latest internet usage statistics, the size of South Africa’s digital community, and the rate at which it is growing, suggests that the ecommerce-centred evolution of magazines is not something to be sneezed at.

According to research conducted by the Digital Media and Marketing Association (DMMA) and Echo Consultancy, the total internet population in South Africa in 2013 is estimated to be almost 14 million. This represents 39% of the adult population a significant pool of consumers.

As demonstrated by the more successful shoppable magazines that have been launched overseas, there needs to be a strong focus on editorial content, where visitors to the sites are empowered to become their own personal stylists. It’s not just about desirable objects it’s about the stories behind them, helping consumers interpret the latest trends and how to and integrate them into their wardrobes.

In the end, it all comes down to the reader. When the partnership between magazines and shopping is forged with the reader in mind, publishers are more likely to find that their efforts are rewarded.

Ecommerce is skyrocketing in South Africa. It’s an exciting space to watch and the shoppable magazine is bound to be an area that draws many curious eyes.

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