Its first venture, Wallpaper Store, will be unveiled next month and, as reported, is a partnership with the Level Group, which creates and manages end-to-end online businesses for fashion and luxury companies.
Marie Claire, meanwhile, has teamed with Specialty Stores Ltd., a division of the British online supermarket Ocado. Its site is set to launch early next year along with a brick-and-mortar store that will most likely be located in London. Both sites will hold inventory.
Wallpaper editor in chief Tony Chambers said the time is right to launch: “There is a huge gap in the market for design online, plus there is no one place that you can find what we will be offering — old-school European crystal, silver and porcelain, contemporary design [pieces] in special colors and finishes made just for us, and goods not currently in production.”
The site will also carry creations that were made for the annual Wallpaper Handmade exhibitions over the past six years. “We finally have an opportunity to offer them for sale,” Chambers said.
The relationship between the magazine and the e-commerce site will be fluid, he said. “Brands often come to us first with exclusive product launches, and we will always be looking to see if they can also work for [the store]. Plus our editors will pull product from the (store’s) selection,” he added.
Andrea Ciccoli, cofounder of the Level Group, said the Wallpaper site will likely have 2,500 to 3,000 stockkeeping units — including objects for the home and office, travel accessories, gifts, furniture and Handmade exclusives — by year’s end.
The aim, he said, is to leverage Wallpaper’s global brand identity in what is currently a fragmented retail environment for high-end furniture and design. The Level Group owns hot East London retailer LN-CC, and is the exclusive e-commerce partner of brands including Costume National, Stuart Weitzman, Casadei, Aspesi, Woolrich, Baracuta and Geox. It is backing the new venture and will share the profits with Wallpaper.
The team at Marie Claire is rapidly forming its launch plans.
Jackie Newcombe, managing director of Time Inc. U.K.’s luxury brands, said Marie Claire has recruited Amanda Scott, formerly head beauty buyer at the British retailer John Lewis, to be the managing director of the business. While the look and feel of the site have yet to be revealed, Newcombe said it would be a different animal from the monthly magazine.
“We’re using the brand’s core values and DNA, and our ability in creating great content, but we’re not going to transform the Marie Claire Web site into a beauty shop,” she said, adding that the potential for growth is significant, with market research firm Mintel predicting that beauty e-commerce sales will be worth upward of one billion pounds, or $1.58 billion, by 2018.
She also said the magazine’s advertising won’t cross with the e-commerce business. “We’re keeping the two entirely separate. The advertising conversation is one thing and the supplier conversation is another.”
As for the potential conflict between editorial and commercial, Newcombe said: “The start point [for the journalist] is you are writing for the reader, it’s your point of view, it’s your edit. The two will clearly come close together because it is a Marie Claire beauty store, so we’re likely to write about things that we also have in the store. But let’s just say something wasn’t selling very well in the store, or we didn’t have it stocked in the store, we wouldn’t tell the beauty team ‘Don’t write about it.’”