Flipboard, whose personalized social magazine has helped define publishing on tablets, now has set its sights on a new market. On Tuesday, the company announced that retailers and other users can now create their own product catalogs, a move that could potentially impact both B2B and B2C markets.
The catalogs are essentially business-oriented versions of the create-your-own-magazine capability that Flipboard announced in March. To begin, the Palo Alto, Calif.-based company recommends that, if you do not have your own products to assemble, a user can explore the Shopping category in the Content Guide to find some.
Flipboard provides 10 curated magazines in Shopping, such as Beauty Bar or Home Sweet Home, each dedicated to articles and products in those areas, as well as shoppable brand magazines from the likes of Levi's, Banana Republic or InStyle magazine, and from celebrities.
Flip It Bookmarklet
A user can then select from those products or from any Web site to begin a catalog of products to buy, after first installing the new Flip It bookmarklet in the browser bar. The bookmarklet allows products to be selected and added into a customized publication from any retail Web site.
The added product, with photo, description and price displayed for most products, can then be purchased by clicking on the item and going to the originating Web site. The catalog can be made available to Web visitors via Flipboard.
Flipboard reportedly will not take a cut of sales of those products, but instead will rely on advertising by retailers wishing to promote their customized catalogs within Flipboard magazines, and users will not currently receive affiliate fees for referring buyers to sites. Users have created more than 4 million personalized Flipboard magazines, and the user base is reported to be about 90 million registered users, up from 50 million in March.
Business, Consumer Possibilities
Companies can create these catalogs as well as consumers, based on the products shown in their Web sites or any other products but curated for a specific occasion or market.
This slicing of single products into subject-oriented catalogs/publications could lead to new forms of e-commerce for business and consumer shoppers. For consumers, it means that retailers can more easily re-package their wares around hooks relating to trends, news, or special occasions, while consumers themselves can assemble wish lists or, if they have a particular interest/knowledge to share with others, a best-of catalog that shares their favorites. It is, essentially, a big tool in the rise of fan shopping.
For businesses, such an ability to pick and choose products for a given approach could mean a quickly assembled catalog of products for a targeted client, possibly surrounded by marketing or editorial material that support the pitch. A computer dealer, for instance, could create a customized catalog of products for a pitch to a data center, or a supplier could select the items specific to a client's equipment setup.