The Guardian Fashion Store – a healthy balance?

Jan. 14, 2010 | by jo-ann.fortune

In October 2009, Guardian News and Media launched its online Fashion Store, allowing users to browse from over 300 retailers and once again proving its ability and willingness to evolve. With this have they hit upon a business model which works for advertisers, publishers and users alike?

Cutting out the middle-man

With publishers increasingly looking to advertising and sponsorship deals to replace lost revenue from dwindling newspaper sales, the Guardian has effectively cut out the middle-man to provide a useful service for its readers. Given the choice I, personally, would much rather a dedicated area within which I can browse a number of brands and ‘shop the look’ championed in this week’s style section, than sidebars full of promotion boxes for brands I may have no interest in.

Indeed, online retail analysis has suggested that people shop for fashion online in a different way to how they might shop for other products. Most clothes shoppers know what stores and labels stock what they’re looking for. So, rather than searching for a particular item, they would look for their favourite clothing brands and then search for the item within the brand’s site. As the Guardian Fashion Store offers the choice to search by brand, it fits with this shopping model much more snugly than side-bar advertising could.

Guardian Fashion Store

Mutual promotion

Many online retailers now create editorial, discussion or community areas on their sites to help build context for their products. But by tying its style editorial in with the Fashion Store, The Guardian has turned the tables somewhat, using products to promote its content.

Guardian Fashion Store

With items that compliment editorial pieces featured on the home-page or ‘shop-window’ of the online store, users can link through to an article to find out why they should be buying this look – promoting both the relevance of the editorial and the products. And such timeliness is intrinsic to the fashion industry.

Guardian Fashion Store


Compared to promotion boxes that link out to retailer sites, hosting a site-contained fashion store should mean that users have less incentive to leave the to shop the look championed in online editorial.

However, at the minute they could be missing a trick by failing to link to the store, or specific items, within editorial. Of course readers would soon become cynical if all editorial solely featured items sold on the site, but in cases where it is relevant and appropriate to mention such items, user experience may be improved by being able to link straight through to and buy or browse products.

There is a delicate balance between banging the sales-message drum and being useful, and it is this power struggle between advertorial and editorial which sees the publishing landscape change shape so frequently.

What do you think of the Guardian’s online Fashion Store – has it got the balance right?

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    Comments (4)

    • Windows 7 Wallpapers

      I think it’s a good policy personally, the guardian could make a lot of money outside the normal advertising model. Good post.Sep 15, 2011 02:58 am

    • Sam

      Sure, but newspapers have complained that they can not make enough money out of adveritsing, their ad-space can not be fully sold. So maybe they think to themselves - "what do we have" - the answer is: great page rank and fantastic positions in Google, on anything we decide to put our minds to. So today fashion, tomorrow insurance and everything else. I think it's a good policy personally, the guardian could make a lot of money outside the normal advertising model. Good post.Feb 1, 2010 11:55 pm

    • Matthew Ncube

      good post. with regards the middle man, there is one in this case. the fashion store is littered with affiliate links and some affiliate network is cashing in as well. also, i think they've got it right so far by keeping this store items out of the editiorial. but i am sure they may join other publishers in monetising links across the editorial with skimlinks or similar.Jan 27, 2010 03:31 pm

    • Sam

      Is this the Guardian monetising their page rank? And thus making the whole page both full of affiliate linking and ad space?Jan 15, 2010 05:56 pm

    Please note: the opinions expressed in this post represent the views of the individual, not necessarily those of iCrossing.

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