Defining your Minimal Viable Product and being prepared to pivot: eCommerce lessons from 5 publishers

What's New in Publishing 09 Apr 2020 07:00

“Success is not linear it’s a journey and learning process,” says Emily Ferguson, Ecommerce Director at Marie Claire UK and Marie Clair Edit, reflecting on a key takeaway from a talk by one of her heroes, Natalie Massenet, the founder of Net-A-Porter and former Chairman of the British Fashion Council. 

For publishers, that not only means being willing to do things differently, but also knowing when to walk away; and indeed when – and where – to hedge your eCommerce bets.

As we will see from these examples from Marie Claire UK, Buzzfeed, Conde Nast, F+W Media and POPSUGAR, there’s much to be learned from others in terms of testing ideas and modifying concepts, dropping eCommerce propositions that do not work or scale, and taking care to avoid the risks associated with in-house fulfilment and overexpansion.

Marie Claire Edit + Proof of Concept

Marie Claire UK launched their online fashion aggregator platform Marie Claire Edit in November 2018. With the tagline ‘Shop the brands you love. Fashion Editor approved’, Marie Claire Edit offered point of purchase, approval badges from Marie Claire Editors and the ability to shop from designer and high street  brands like Selfridges, ASOS, Topshop and NET-A-PORTER.

A key goal at launch was to demonstrate proof of concept. 

Screenshot of the Fuck Shit Shop website (October 2019)

“In 2014, former CEO David Nussbaum doubled down on the space,” Adweek recounts, “announcing a new name—F+W, a Content + Ecommerce Company—and announcing that F+W was “strategically moving away from our traditional roots in the media business” to focus on “its fastest-growing businesses, digital and ecommerce.” “This was, it turned out, not to be a good bet.” 

This article has been adapted, updated, and expanded from our free to download report, The Publisher’s Guide to eCommerce.

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Marie ClaireBuzzFeedEmily Ferguson
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