With merchandising such a massive part of the entertainment business, it was only a matter of time before Netflix would jump in with its own marketplace. Indeed, the streaming provider has its own store now with Netflix.shop, announced Thursday.
According to the company, the shop acts as a way to extend the storytelling powered by the platform.
“We love it when great stories transcend screens and become part of people’s lives. We’re always looking at how we can extend the world of our stories for fans, from apparel and toys to immersive events and games,” Josh Simon, vice president of consumer products, wrote on the company’s blog. “And it’s why today we’re launching Netflix.shop as an exciting new destination combining curated products and rich storytelling in a uniquely Netflix shopping experience.”
Netflix plans to feature a rotating stock of exclusive, limited-edition items connected to the shows that it streams. While the platform overflows with more than 15,000 titles, the company doesn’t want Netflix.shop to become an overflowing, massive mega fan site chock full of goods. Instead, it plans to selectively curate apparel and lifestyle products to stock its virtual shelves.
Thursday’s debut — in the U.S.-only for now, with other regions to follow — opens with a collection of anime-inspired collectibles, followed later in the month by streetwear and action figures tied to anime series “Yasuke” and “Eden.” A collaboration with the Louvre museum will also bring limited-edition apparel inspired by “Lupin,” including baseball caps, T-shirts and hoodies, along with home decor items.
Fans of “The Witcher” and “Stranger Things” will have something to look forward to as well, the company teased, adding that it will also carry Netflix logoed attire created by Japanese fashion house Beams.
While the Netflix store may be new, it’s not the first retail play from the tech company. It’s made consumer products available before, such as “Yasuke” products carried by Target, as well as other deals with the likes of Walmart, Sephora and Amazon. Simon, a former Nike executive, understands the power of retail and partnered with Shopify to create the store.
Media and entertainment companies, facing ever-intensifying competition in a world enthralled with streaming, appear to have gotten wise to shopping as a revenue generator, as well as a potentially powerful attraction. According to The Leichtman Research Group, more than 200 streaming platforms are in service worldwide. In the U.S. alone, 74 percent of consumers subscribe to a streaming service.
Shopping is a powerful way to help pad the coffers and entice viewers to stick around, and media companies like NBC Universal have gotten the memo. NBCU has launched and continues to steadily develop online commerce features that not only relate to its programming, but specifically ties them together through mobile devices, QR codes and even augmented reality features.
Meanwhile, established TV shopping players are innovating as well. HSN and QVC’s Qurate Retail Group, which was flagging in the lead up to the pandemic, saw its performance reverse course last year, as homebound shoppers stoked gains. Perhaps sensing opportunity, the company partnered with LG last fall on a live shopping app that puts these original TV shopping brands directly on the electronics giant’s range of smart televisions, among other tech partnerships.
Netflix is not hurting for money either. The streaming company raked in $6.15 billion in the second quarter, a year-over-year gain of 25 percent, and doubled its year-ago profits with $720 million. Under the seasoned helm of Josh Simon, it looks like it’s in a prime position to bet on shopping.
How much Netflix.shop will juice the numbers remains to be seen. But it’s quite likely that will be the cliffhanger that has the entertainment and retail sectors tuning in to find out.