The online stores of The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age will shut to make way for a new, design-focused e-commerce play that Fairfax Media hopes will double sales in six months.
TheStore.com.au launched Monday with more than 1000 products including art, clothing, accessories, home wares and garden goods.
Fairfax aims to provide a unique sales proposition by avoiding the high-discount, high-volume model favoured by many existing online retailers and instead focusing on quality, Australian designed products.
Digital commerce director Trudi Jenkins said The Store is designed to appeal to Fairfax’s “discerning, slighter older audience that don’t want to buy cheap, badly made stuff” and instead seek products and brands that “have a story to tell”.
Key to this positioning is The Store’s network of product curators, which include:
– Stephen Todd, design editor of Australian Financial Review
– Melissa Singe, fashion and lifestyle editor of The Age
– David Clark, former editor-in-chief of Vogue Living in Australia
– Barry Keldoulis, CEO and director of Sydney Contemporary international art fair
“These are people that know their stuff,” Ms Jenkins said. “I’m really trying to steer away from the 20-something bloggers that can’t spell their own names”
“When you’re buying online you can’t pick up, touch and feel products so it’s good if you can have someone telling you why they think it’s a good piece or this brand is doing exciting things.”
The Store has been in rapid development since Ms Jenkins, the cofounder of e-commerce startup hardtofind, joined Fairfax in May to spearhead the project. She had been consulting Fairfax about its online stores since the beginning of the year.
Selling ads on The Store isn’t a priority given the sizable cut Fairfax takes from each sale.
However, content marketing may be considered as editorial content is gradually added to the site over the coming months.
Ms Jenkins said The Store has a marketing platform business model.
“We don’t buy any stock. We don’t warehouse any stock. We basically create a platform for people to sell their products and we can take a percentage,” she said.
Sellers, after being carefully selected by curators, are charged with filling and shipping orders.
Customer service is a big priority for Fairfax given this model could result in a volatile user experience due to no centralised distribution structure.
Fairfax subscribers get a 20 per cent discount on The Store, which goes a long way considering some artwork costs upwards of $600.
Fairfax aims to double the 60,000 registered users of its existing online shops within six months and expand The Store’s product range to between six and ten thousand in the long term.
The site carries a number of exclusive and limited edition items. These include exclusive prints of Melbourne street artist Adnate’s portrait of Adam Goodes, which is currently nominated for the Doug Moran National Portrait Prize.
The Store will be promoted across Fairfax’s digital and print mastheads and a regular “Meet the Maker” segment will be launched on radio station 2UE, majority owned by Fairfax.
For more news from NewsMediaWorks, click here.