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Harper's Bazaar Launches ShopBazaar

The Hearst title is diving head first into e-commerce today with the debut a content-driven online store that makes the pages of the magazine shoppable.

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THE BAZAAR BOUTIQUE: Now open: Harper’s Bazaar, the specialty retailer.

The Hearst title is diving head first into e-commerce today with the debut of ShopBazaar, a content-driven online store that makes the pages of the magazine shoppable. About 32 items from the October issue will be available for purchase beginning today at ShopBazaar.com but more than 300 items in total are for sale on the site. Some of the clothing comes from past issues of Harper’s Bazaar while other featured pieces may have just missed the cut from a particular issue. “I thought about doing this at Elle — we tiptoed into it,” said publisher Carol Smith. “Almost the first day on the job, I asked [editor in chief] Glenda [Bailey] about this. It has to start on that side. If church isn’t into it, the state can’t do anything.”

Smith wrote a business plan late last year and, in October, it was approved and she started to build the new site. “We are officially a store,” she said. “In October, it will be available on the tablet. In February, you will be able to use the iPhone.”

The shopping platform for ShopBazaar was built specifically for the Hearst title, and every item for sale can be purchased and shipped without buyers ever having to leave the site. Bazaar is partnering with Saks Fifth Avenue for the launch, and about 80 percent of the merchandise will be sourced from the retailer, with the remainder coming from other designers. Bazaar will hold no inventory. All items will be bought, held and shipped by Saks and other partners, but everything can be purchased through a shopping basket on ShopBazaar.

Smith referred to fashion market director Nicole Fritton as the “Linda Fargo of the online store.” “There will be an editorial slant to everything we do. We’re a magazine that is about getting the dream of getting to own,” said Smith.

Bailey will play a big role in the site as well. As to whether the site will further muddy the already at-times murky waters in consumer magazines between editorial and advertising, Bailey insisted the addition of the store will not alter how she does her job — although one must expect her to favor designers who are willing to participate. To date, Smith said 70 designers have agreed to work with ShopBazaar.

“We’re going to continue to do exactly what we’re doing,” Bailey said. “We just want to make shopping easier for our readers. You can now see something and immediately shop from merchandise picked from our informed point of view.” The store will also feature exclusive items, such as a limited-edition Alexander Wang bag shown in the September issue that costs $925. More than 100 people have already signed up for it.

Hearst owns the shopping platform, which means it can be applied to other titles such as Esquire and Town & Country. Smith said Harper’s Bazaar is involved in a revenue share agreement on items purchased but she declined to break it down.

Across the category, brands such as Lucky, InStyle, GQ and Esquire have introduced e-commerce into their businesses with mixed success. ShopBazaar is the most aggressive venture yet in taking a magazine’s content and selling it online. “At Elle, ‘Project Runway’ started our build,” Smith said. “At Harper’s Bazaar, it will be ShopBazaar.”