Harper's Bazaar Introduces ShopBazaar as Magazines' E-Commerce Push Grows

Magazine Owns Site But Won't Own the Merchandise

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Harper's Bazaar is introducing an e-commerce initiative called ShopBazaar, a website owned by the magazine that features apparel and accessories from its pages, part of magazines' accelerating push into e-commerce and broader effort to diversify revenue.

"We read to dream and aspire, but also to acquire," said Carol Smith, VP, publisher and chief revenue officer at Harper's Bazaar, part of Hearst Magazines.

"This is our brand moment," Ms. Smith added. "We will be a brand you read about and a brand you shop."

Earlier this week Coastal Living, part of Time Inc., introduced a curated section on Wayfair.com, the online retail site. Some other magazines have made a variety of ventures in the same area.

The new site is a "true content-to-commerce venture," an editorial site with content that allows readers to buy the products that editors have chosen, Ms. Smith said. The magazine plans to make its pages shoppable from every entry point.

ShopBazaar, the first part of that plan, will only be open to a small group of invited consumers this month. It opens to the public the next month. The print edition will run a ShopBazaar icon next to every item available in the marketplace. October will also see the introduction of The Bazaar Book app, a monthly hybrid of a magazine and a catalogue that will be available as a standalone and on the ShopBazaar site. By next February, readers will be able to shop yet another way when the icons in the magazine become watermarks. Those watermarks will allow readers to shop the pages by scanning them with their smartphones.

Harper's Bazaar is getting about 80% of the ShopBazaar merchandise through Saks Fifth Avenue and about 20% from other retailers like Hirshleifers and even designers like Ferragamo, Ms. Smith said. The magazine won't hold any inventory on its own, leaving that for the retailers and designers.

American Express is the first sponsor for both ShopBazaar and The Bazaar Book.

ShopBazaar is the latest development in a busy year for Harper's Bazaar. In March, it underwent a dramatic redesign of the magazine's look, trim size and paper stock. Ad pages since then have been on the rise; its September issue carried more ad pages than any issue of Harper's Bazaar before it.

Ms. Smith has combined e-commerce and publishing before, developing Elle Shop on Elle magazine's site in 2002 while she was publisher there. She talked about e-commerce in her first meeting with Harper's Bazaar Editor-in-Chief Glenda Bailey, she said. By last October the project had grown to the point that she hired a director of e-commerce, even though no platform yet existed.

Magazines need to view e-commerce as more than a "clever marketing scheme," Ms. Smith said. "That lasts just so long," she said. It requires time, money, and a commitment from editors, who will have to take on a second role, she said.

Upper management at Hearst is also committed to ShopBazaar, Ms. Smith said. Because it is a platform that is built and owned by Hearst, it is something that could be rolled out to sibling brands as well.

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