With Catalogs, Flipboard Dips Its Toe Into E-Commerce

With Catalogs, Flipboard Dips Its Toe Into E-Commerce

NOVEMBER 11, 2013 AT 6:27 AM PT

Mike Isaac

Just in time for the holidays, Flipboard is beginning to look more shopper-friendly. The startup, which has offered mobile magazines populated with news and editorial content from your various social streams, announced on Monday its new “catalogs” product, a way for users to browse and purchase items directly from Flipboard, much like the paper gift guides that flood mailboxes year-round.It’s a move in line with the shift made earlier this year when Flipboard introduced “magazines,” user-curated collections of content focused on themes that can be shared with others online (both on the Web and via mobile).

At the same time, the catalog is much in the same vein as what Flipboard has always professed to be; a digital version of the stylishly laid-out, polished and paginated print magazines we’re used to receiving. And to court potential buyers, Flipboard argues, it’s much more effective to package a product ad or purchase option along side of relevant content — much like magazines pitch space to the advertisers best suited to their audience.

“The thing about products is that its not just about the brand, but about the lifestyle that the product expresses,” Eugene Wei, Flipboard’s head of product, said in an interview.

Flipboard’s cut comes in much like the magazine model; the startup can pitch ad space inside of catalogs to brands, which can then productize some of their goods and make them available to purchase through Flipboard. As usual, Flipboard takes a cut of the ad revenue from the ads appearing alongside the products.

hile buying an item through Flipboard sounds like a clever way to reach audiences through user-curated content, the act of purchasing isn’t exactly speedy. After clicking on a buyable product (signified by a price tag), you’re linked out to the item’s buy menu on a Web page, which you’ll then have to click through and enter all your information to complete the sale.

That’s no easy ask for tablet and smartphone users, an area notorious for buying drop-off as more points of “friction” — or more steps in the process of buying — are introduced.

And with the user generated, curated and productized element of all of this, I imagine it’s not terribly different from what Pinterest may look like when it decides to actually monetize its product someday. That’s a potential behemoth competitor for Flipboard to deal with.

Still, Wei positions the move as a first step for the company, which hopes to reduce friction in the buying process while getting a jump on any potential competition.

To kickstart the program, Flipboard has partnered with a handful of brands like Fab, Banana Republic and Birchbox, which will create their own catalogs — filled with their own products and house-tailored ads — for users to peruse from the shopping category in Flipboard’s digital magazine stand. The initiative rolls out on Monday.

About bambooinnovator
Kee Koon Boon (“KB”) is the co-founder and director of HERO Investment Management which provides specialized fund management and investment advisory services to the ARCHEA Asia HERO Innovators Fund (www.heroinnovator.com), the only Asian SMID-cap tech-focused fund in the industry. KB is an internationally featured investor rooted in the principles of value investing for over a decade as a fund manager and analyst in the Asian capital markets who started his career at a boutique hedge fund in Singapore where he was with the firm since 2002 and was also part of the core investment committee in significantly outperforming the index in the 10-year-plus-old flagship Asian fund. He was also the portfolio manager for Asia-Pacific equities at Korea’s largest mutual fund company. Prior to setting up the H.E.R.O. Innovators Fund, KB was the Chief Investment Officer & CEO of a Singapore Registered Fund Management Company (RFMC) where he is responsible for listed Asian equity investments. KB had taught accounting at the Singapore Management University (SMU) as a faculty member and also pioneered the 15-week course on Accounting Fraud in Asia as an official module at SMU. KB remains grateful and honored to be invited by Singapore’s financial regulator Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to present to their top management team about implementing a world’s first fact-based forward-looking fraud detection framework to bring about benefits for the capital markets in Singapore and for the public and investment community. KB also served the community in sharing his insights in writing articles about value investing and corporate governance in the media that include Business Times, Straits Times, Jakarta Post, Manual of Ideas, Investopedia, TedXWallStreet. He had also presented in top investment, banking and finance conferences in America, Italy, Sydney, Cape Town, HK, China. He has trained CEOs, entrepreneurs, CFOs, management executives in business strategy & business model innovation in Singapore, HK and China.

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