For years now, reader apps have slugged along with an advertising business model that hasn’t exactly been lucrative. With the debut of Flipboard’s new social shopping catalogue, however, its e-commerce strategy could break ground for the experimentation of new business models among reader apps.
Piggybacking on New York Fashion Week, which is in full bloom for the Spring/Summer 2013 line, Flipboard has announced “The New Levi’s Collection.” Flipboard, in conjunction with Levi’s, will sell the clothing brand’s fall season fashion for both men and women. In other words, the magazine-style reader is now a shopping platform — one where users can easily purchase what they see from within the app’s new Style category, found in the Content Guide.
In magazine fashion, the Style category will be accompanied by images uploaded using Instagram, curated articles by Levi’s staffers, and a behind-the-scenes look of the “insider’s view of life at Levi’s.” Flipboard calls the experience Catalogue 2.0, as it offers a shopping experience that’s completely restricted to Flipboard, a mobile-only application.
Flipboard is not the first magazine-like app to have tackled m-commerce. Publishers were once scrambling to figure out how to offer a compelling tablet-based magazine that consumers would be willing to purchase, despite offering similar content in its print publication. In 2010 Marie Claire and ELLE magazines, both, owned by Hearst, were among the first magazine app in the iTunes App Store with an m-commerce solution that integrated a shopping platform within the reading experience.
There isn’t much to lose for both Flipboard and Levi’s now that the technology platform has already been developed. Flipboard most likely takes a commission for every sale made, similar to a drop shipping solution, and (of course) every purchase request notifies Levi’s to ship out the appropriate product.
This strategy could get the folks at Zite, Pulse, News.me, and other mobile readers thinking about supplementing their revenue with an m-commerce business model, and we couldn’t blame them. M-commerce is one of the fastest growing subsets within e-commerce.