As Australia’s largest cross-platform publisher, Fairfax Media is constantly looking for innovative ways to create new revenue streams beyond traditional print circulation and advertising.
In November 2016, we launched The Store by Fairfax. This new e-commerce destination aims to maximise Fairfax’s large, quality audiences of more than 11 million people per month, across its network of print and digital assets.
We approached the initiative with five key strategies and goals.
1. Harness in-house talent.
In a world of fake news, Fairfax Media journalists pride themselves on the quality and integrity of their writing. The products in The Store by Fairfax aim to meet this integrity level, carefully chosen by our curators: art directors, lifestyle writers, fashion editors, and others at one of our many newspapers and magazines. Our consumers can “Shop by Curator,” following the recommendations of their chosen expert.
For example: Karen McCartney, design writer on Good Weekend (a magazine supplement inserted into the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age), used her extensive knowledge of the interior design world and contacts to choose a collection of homewares and artworks for The Store. Michael Laxton, Fairfax’s stylish chief marketing officer, selected a range of bags, watches, wallets, and gifts for the sophisticated man about town.
2. Focus on content.
Although The Store by Fairfax is a retail business, our writers and designers have a publishing background — which means they understand how 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.
We add content to the site daily, using interviews, podcasts, and video to bring our products to life.
3. Maximise the publishing network.
Key retail initiatives are promoted across our network of national newspapers, magazines, and Web sites. An exclusive collection of limited-edition prints might feature in a wrap of The Sydney Morning Herald, where the artist is interviewed about his life and work. The story would also be published online, with additional video content and a link to buy the prints.
Another example would be a Mother’s Day gift guide featured in both print and digital iterations across several publications and platforms. And while digital and social media marketing are core to our promotional strategy, print ads play an essential role as well — even for an e-commerce site.
4. Partner with key players.
Fairfax Media’s reputation for quality journalism, and its ability to reach an audience of more than 11 million people every month, allows us to partner with key institutions and artists on major projects.
To date, The Store by Fairfax has collaborated with the Australian Museum and the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney, as well as renowned Australian artists John Olsen and Del Kathryn Barton, to produce limited-edition prints. Upcoming collections from an exhibition at the National Gallery of Australia and collaboration with the Sidney Nolan Trust will be available exclusively to our readers.
5. Bring in e-commerce expertise.
The Store by Fairfax is basically a marketing platform for more than 200 brands, using a drop-ship model (which means we don’t buy or warehouse any products ourselves). Therefore, ecommerce expertise is essential.
The day-to-day business revolves around stock levels, product descriptions, shipping methods, payment gateways, conversion rates, abandoned carts, retargeting, keyword search volumes, e-mail marketing programmes, and state-of-the-art software that works across all devices and browsers.
While Fairfax Media has the publishing expertise, and the platforms to promote a new business to its vast audience, e-commerce experience is also vital to the site’s success.
In these five ways, Fairfax Media has created a new revenue stream for a traditional publishing business, monetised its audience, and increased e-commerce revenue by 700% in its first two months of operation.