Fairfax leveraging its quality audiences for e-commerce

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Curated products and a "drop-ship" business model have helped Fairfax Media to 700 per cent increase e-commerce revenue in two months.

Last November's launch of The Store by Fairfax has created a new e-commerce destination leveraging Fairfax's 11 million a month print and digital audience, according to digital commerce director Trudi Jenkins.

The project harnessed in-house talent, with products chosen by art directors, lifestyle writers, fashion editors and other staffers using their specific expertise. In one case a collection of homewares and artworks was the choice of Karen McCartney, a design writer on the Good Weekend magazine supplement to the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age; in another Fairfax's "stylish chief marketing officer" Michael Laxton selected a range of bags, watches, wallets, and gifts for the sophisticated man about town.

"Our consumers can even 'Shop by Curator', following the recommendations of their chosen expert," she says.

Writers and designers use their publishing backgrounds to create "the right content, with the right look and tone, for our educated and discerning audience".

"Where other retailers may be focused on discounting products or constantly turning over stock, we select unique brands with an interesting story to tell. These might include an artist creating original works, a designer with an innovative new product or an entrepreneur focused on ethical manufacturing," she says.

New content is added to the site daily, with products brought to life via interviews, podcasts and video.

Fairfax also supports key retail initiatives across its network of national newspapers, magazines, and websites, with a collection of limited-edition prints recently featuring in a wrap around the Sydney Morning Herald, accompanied by a interview with the artist and online video. A Mother's Day gift guide featured in both print and digital across several publications and platforms.

There have also been collaborations with key institutions and artists - including Sydney's Royal Botanic Garden and artists John Olsen and Del Kathryn Barton - on major projects. Collections from an exhibition at the National Gallery of Australia and collaboration with the Sidney Nolan Trust are planned asd exclusives.

But Jenkins says that since The Store by Fairfax is basically a marketing platform, bringing in e-commerce expertise was essential. The more than 200 brands are handled using a drop-ship model, without buying or warehousing products.

"The day-to-day business revolves around stock levels, product descriptions, shipping methods, payment gateways, conversion rates, abandoned carts, retargeting, keyword search volumes, email marketing programmes and state-of-the-art software that works across all devices and browsers," she says in an INMA post.

The initiative has created a new revenue stream for a traditional publishing business, monetised its audience, and increased e-commerce revenue by 700 per cent in its first two months of operation.

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