Mail Newspapers, which comprises the Daily Mail and Mail on Sunday, is launching an online retail proposition MailShop.co.uk, which will act as both a new revenue stream for the publisher and a means to unearth valuable first party data.
The ecommerce site uses a marketplace model, meaning multiple sellers can sign up to sell products on the site, which it claims is the first of its kind for a UK news brand.
It has been developed in close consultation with existing Mail customers - to ensure it stocks brands that it’s readers identify with - in combination with data from its existing ecommerce propositions, MyMail and its loyalty programme with over one million members.
The site will use aspirational lifestyle photography to help shoppers envisage products in their own home, conveniently showcasing everything customers need to ‘get a look’.
The initial launch focuses on homeware, garden, kitchen and Christmas ranges with more lines to be added over time. The site goes live today (11 October) with over 20 trusted sellers, including Thompson & Morgan, Lakeland and Cleverboxes.
What is different about the Mail’s retail proposition, when compared to its retail-first competitors, is how wide its target audience is. As a publisher that reaches over 25 million people across print and digital each month, the proposition has to be built to appeal to a huge range of people. This means the shop must include items at a range of price points, with different levels of quality.
Speaking on how the Mail plans to cut through in the online retail space - a highly saturated market - Adam Kemp, head of ecommerce, Mail Newspapers said the publisher’s biggest advantage is “the strength, trust and reassurance that the Mail brand brings to our proposition”.
“Whilst ecommerce is a busy space the marketplace model is a fast growing model. We reach over 20m people and have the largest UK loyalty scheme. That trust puts us in a good position in terms of how we can drive engagement,” he added.
The Mail is not the first to make the move from publisher to retailer; Grazia launched a standalone ecommerce site in 2014, closely tying editorial and commercial to help steer readers to spend in its shop.
Kemp is keen to mention that as a business, the Mail’s editorial and commercial teams “sit relatively separately”, and that “there is no guarantee or agreement with how Mail Shop will work with editorial".
“Editorial integrity is very important to us as a business,” he said, “There is no guarantee we will drive traffic through editorial.”
The Mail follows in the footsteps of the Sun's similar move to build out revenue streams outside of advertising, with the launch of betting proposition Sun Bets in August. Both publishers know the commercial value of data and are consequently creating platforms that increase how much of it they can collect.
That said, Kemp believes the primary commercial model for Mail Shop is around driving revenue from sales, squashing any questions around how it could use advertising and data to expand the revenue driving potential.
When quizzed on whether the wealth of data the ecommerce site opens up could be sold as part of a data package for advertisers looking to target its users, Kemp commented “that is not our intention yet”.
“The data gives us a better insight into our customers. The plan is to utilise that to drive a better customer experience, more personalized customer journey and improve engagement,” he said.
Kemp refused to mention the publisher’s sales targets, but said “we are confident with the audience we have and the proposition we have put together we will be able to drive significant growth”.
To drive awareness of the new site, the publisher will open up ad space within the Daily Mail and Mail on Sunday newspapers to cross promote the Mail Shop, with the potential to run ads in its supplement publications You, Weekend and Mail Travel as well. It will also run a wider digital marketing campaign across MyMail, its free loyalty scheme which has over 1 million members, and across each of its subset’s respective social media accounts “to drive awareness in those specific customer segments”.