Millennial women, a unique voice and a shopping basket are just three ingredients for a profitable fash-tech website. The monthly fashion magazine is no longer the buzz in our fast-paced society that demands a contemporary two-in-one platform with more immediate content and access to the products themselves.
Yes, e-commerce remains a "traditional" incentive for investors of fashion technology start-ups, like Gilt Groupe raising over $200 million and Ideeli that raised $128 million through flash sales - but a distinct voice that readers miss after reading a web-post bridges the two together with authenticity and makes a more attractive investment. Editorialist's Kate Davidson Hudson argues that 'If you can cultivate an authoritative voice that your reader trusts, editorial content can be a compelling tool in adding a higher level of service to your customer.' She suggests that a voice creates a personalised, informative approach to stage fashion e-commerce - 'By understanding the story behind a piece and being able to contextualise its importance with the scope of the season, along with imparting editorial cues on how to wear it, or, insights into how other influencers are wearing or styling their looks, you're creating a rich, highly-serviced experience for your customer. It's a value proposition that's hard to compete with on any traditional retail front or print media front.' Great examples of this are successful content-based sites Editorialist, Refinery29 and Into the Gloss. Posting interviews, videos and editorials as well as articles, they also have space for online sales. Particularly, Editorialist sells accessories used in editorials directly from the site and founders say that this method of attracting audience is a 'more efficient model in consuming our fashion media and in how women shop.'
So why are Millennial women a point of attraction for investment? Only because they're born in the capital of fashion: the dream shopping destination for all consumers with a soft spot for designer wear. These women have it all on their doorstep and are the first to set the trends that now dictate marketing. As they have access to fresh-off-the-catwalk fashion, puts them on top of the ladder of futuristic fash-tech. Advocating the innovative disruption that Millenials are born to embrace, Macala Wright, writer/strategist and founder of Why This Way, explains that 'Investors are interested in these types of media properties for the direct and indirect revenue streams they hold with Millennial consumers,' and 'Millennials have become the most powerful, brand savvy consumer group globally.'
As part of their experiment with e-commerce, Refinery has acquired the loyalty of this audience by devoting content interesting and relevant to them. As e-commerce is a more direct form of revenue generation, with affiliate linking that gives the advertiser all traffic information to their site, Philippe von Borries, co-founder and co-CEO, Refinery29, has endeavoured in this focused marketing scheme. As 'The hyper connected, collaborative consumers are not consumers of traditional media,' Wright advises that editorial content has become more shoppable, and Millennials are a perfect target market as they want 'practical, actionable advice [that's] easily consumable.'
For investors, 'ad revenue opportunities in terms of digital ad buys, licensing partnerships and even percentages of revenue sold,' Wright continues, can be covered by usual forms of marketing like events, designer collaborations and curated shopping guides, making this platform a profitable one, with a relatively low overhead. At the forefront, Editorialist started out with just two founders and was able to obtain investment through a committed readership that was built on content that is tailored to them. Co-founder Davidson Hudson says, 'We're also realizing very strong sell-through's and an extremely high user engagement in the way of time spent consuming the content on our site, which is proof that our model is working,' highlighting the importance of investing time in talking with the customers, not just to them.
Could content-based e-commerce websites become a rival to advertising in glossy-page turners? Millennial women are proof that immediate content with a relevant e-commerce component is the forward way of driving their interest. To take this further, companies are already thinking of expanding through other digital means. For Marriott, it is focusing on mobile shopping and investing in industries outside of fashion, including beauty, health and home, for David Hudson it's 'making meaningful investments in regions that have demonstrated a high-traffic rate, and demand for Editorialist content and commerce,' while Into the Gloss is looking at its staff base. The digital fashion industry is getting rich with content, e-sales and investment, with evidence that small start-ups with as little as two people have the potential to get lucky.