So here’s one that makes only too much sense: Flipboard is getting in on the e-commerce game. Why? Because duh.
Flipboard unveiled Monday its new shopping category, which features 12 magazines curated by the Flipboard team. The magazines are akin to print shopping catalogues (the ones you’ve been getting for about a month now in the mail).
Earlier this year, Flipboard gave users the ability to curate content to create their own magazines for other readers. Now, Flipboard is expanding this feature to allow brands and individual users to curate items and products into shopping guides, a la Pinterest.
To launch the new feature, Flipboard has forged several new partnerships with top brands, including Banana Republic, Fab, Birchbox, eBay, and ModCloth, while also leveraging existing partnerships with Etsy and Levi’s. Each brand has its own shopping magazine, but each brand’s products also appear in curated magazines based on certain themes, such as “Modern Man,” “Beauty Bar,” “Home Sweet Home,” “The Pantry,” “The Active-ist,” and more.
The company has also enlisted the help of a few celebrity curators as well, including designer Cynthia Rowley (“All Things Cynthia”), chef Daniel Boulud (“Holiday Favorites”), actress Alyssa Milano (“Gifts for the Woman in Your Life”), and singer Sara Evans (“A Real Fine Place”).
Users can also create their own magazines using the upgraded Flip.it button, which allows users to create their own catalogues using images gleaned from virtually any commerce website in existence. When a user “flips” a product (selects it for his/her magazine), the item automatically lists in the catalogue with a price tag, thereby closing the loop between content and commerce.
That said, there are a couple of caveats. For starters, it’s not a one-click shopping experience. Nor is it even uniform. When you decide to purchase an item, it takes you to the retailer’s checkout page, which means you have to enter your information and payment details all over again. Not fun times when you’re on a smartphone.
Either way, this does seem to cross definitively into Pinterest’s territory. Not that the two can’t coexist peacefully. Both are pretty well-known brands with established user bases.
Flipboard has some 90 million active users, up from 20 million last year. Since launching its magazines feature in March, some 4.5 million magazines have been created. In September, Flipboard raised $50 million in a round led by Rizvi Traverse Management and Goldman Sachs. The company has raised $110.5 million altogether and has been valued at $800 million.