Most people think that Net-A-Porter is a retailer, but it’s actually a media company, reports Christina Binkley in The Wall Street Journal (4/5/14). "The industry is so locked into ‘this is press’ and ‘this is commerce’," says Lucy Yeomans, editor-in-chief of Porter, a "glossy new fashion magazine" published by the online retailer. The first edition weighs in at 282 pages, including "fashion spreads … a chatty feature on actress Uma Thurman, as well as ads from the likes of Chanel and Saint Laurent." Naturally, the fashions can be purchased on Net-A-Porter, and elsewhere.
The rationale for a print publication is simply that "women prefer to read about fashion on glossy pages even as they shop online." "These are women who love fashion magazines, but 60% of their purchases are online," says Net-A-Porter founder Natalie Massenet. Apparently, few women "read digital versions of fashion magazines on mobile devices and the web." Porter is published in both print and digital editions, with the digital version delving "deeper into commerce, making it easy to click and acquire a pair of shoes," for example.
A mobile app, meanwhile, enables users to "snap a photo of a page, which will call up a shopping program" as well as "direct consumers to a brand’s own retail sites or other retail stores." However, the "print edition gives only the barest hint that it’s ‘shoppable’" via "a small line at the bottom of pages throughout the magazine" that promotes the app. The bottom line apparently is black and white: "As of today, retailing activity pays the rent," says Net-A-Porter CEO Mark Sebba, who also notes that the company enjoys a higher profit margin on advertising revenue than it does on retail sales.