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Banana Republic, eBay tap mobile content curation to drive sales

Banana Republic, Modcloth and eBay are a handful of the first retailers to crank out shoppable content for news reading application Flipboard.

The new curated catalogs feature builds on a feature that Flipboard rolled out about six months ago that lets consumers pack their own personalized magazines with videos, pictures and articles. Additional retailers pushing out the new shoppable content are Birchbox and Fab.

“Part of the experience we create at ModCloth is inherently about creating awesome content for our girl,” said Rebecca Silliman, head of communications at ModCloth, San Francisco.

“Flipboard is a natural partner for us as we look at new ways to curate and share the content,” she said. “Our publications on Flipboard are much more than just a catalog, they’re lifestyle publications.”

Curated mobile content
Each retailer has created its own set of branded magazines within the Flipboard iPhone and Android app.

Modcloth’s content marries content and commerce together.

For example, an article giving a behind-the-scenes look at a collection is followed by a shoppable page promoting a Modcloth dress.

Modcloth also has a magazine titled “Wedding Belles” that pulls together wedding tips, style and inspiration for brides-to-be.

Other retailers are using Flipboard as a digital catalog.




Banana Republic, for instance, is promoting its fall catalogs through a Flipboard magazine.

The retailer is also running full-page ads within the Vanity Fair and Elle magazines to drive traffic to its magazine.

Banana Republic’s magazine aggregates several pieces of the brand’s content across Flickr, Tumblr and YouTube as part of the holiday #OpenForJoy campaign.

Some pages within the magazine specifically promote new fall and winter clothing with a big “Buy Now” button that links to Banana Republic’s mobile site through a landing page. From there, consumers can shop the look and go back to the magazine.

Instead of focusing solely on commerce, eBay’s magazines play up content more heavily. For example, one of the brand’s magazines called “Furry Friends” includes links to pet-related products in addition to GIFs and photos of pets.

Flipboard is also launching a new product called the button that can be installed as a bookmark on a Web browser. The button is similar to a feature that Pinterest offers that lets consumers add Web content straight to their Flipboard magazines.

If the content is on a product page, Flipboard will add the item to the personal magazine with a price tag, which is aimed at spurring consumers to click-through and shop.

In addition to the new retail brands, Levi’s and Etsy are also participating in the new curated catalogs.

“We want to create the most diverse ecosystem when it comes to content,” said Christel van der Boom, spokeswoman at Flipboard, Palo Alto, CA.

“Since we launched Flipboard 2.0 six months ago with the ability to curate, 4.5 million of magazines have been created and [users] have been asking about how to make it easier to add products to their magazines,” she said.

Mobile-optimized content?
Flipboard is in the process of partnering with other retailers, and although Ms. van der Boom did not mention specific retailers, she did hint that a couple of retailers might be added before the holiday season.

When it comes to retailers that are well-suited for Flipboard, the key is that the brand has a plethora of mobile-optimized content.

Flipboard’s primary focus up until recently has been partnering with publishers to get content onto the platform.

Most recently, Time Inc. became the news app’s biggest partner with 68 million cross-screen consumers (see story).

Flipboard is far from the only app betting on curation and personalization as a news reading source for consumers. Competitors in the space include Zite, Pulse and Yahoo-owned Summly.

However, the new focus on advertising is an interesting way for the app to lure in brand spend with full-page ads as an alternative to the static banner ads that marketers are already running within publishers’ mobile sites and apps.

For example, IEstée Lauder worked with Flipboard in August to relaunch its Advanced Night Repair serum campaign as part of a deal with Hearst Corp. (see story).

“We believe in great content moving forward,” Ms. van der Boom said.

“For a lot of people, this is just another aspect of the kind of content that you want to see on Flipboard,” she said.

Final Take
Lauren Johnson is associate reporter on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York