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eCommerce in Publishing: Introduction

What publishers need to know about this growing revenue stream and what it means for them

This is an excerpt from our free-to-download report, eCommerce in Publishing: Trends & Strategies

eCommerce, also known as electronic commerce or internet commerce, refers to the buying and selling of goods or services using the internet, and the transfer of money and data to execute these transactions.

eCommerce is often used to refer to the sale of physical products online, but it can also describe any kind of commercial transaction that is facilitated through the internet.

Definition via Shopify

Back in late-2019 and early 2020, I authored two reports for What’s New In Publishing looking at the impact – and potential – for eCommerce as a revenue stream for publishers

With the exception of outlets such as Marie Claire UK, Dennis Publishing, BuzzFeed, Future and POPSUGAR many of those efforts still felt quite embryonic. I felt that the potential for media players to more effectively harness the relationship between their content and commerce was often going unrealised. 

Because of this, a key goal of those initial reports was to highlight these possibilities and to provide inspiration and insight that might, in turn, help more publishers to see how eCommerce could feasibly work for them. 

My sense was that eCommerce would only become more important to publishers, as they sought to diversify their revenue streams and look for new sources of income. 

Two and a half years later, catalyzed by COVID (and not my reports!) the situation could not be more different. Initial scepticism, wariness and uncertainty about the potential for eCommerce have gradually begun to wane, as publishers become increasingly interested in the potential for content-led commerce and other eCommerce possibilities.

New research from the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism finds that the COVID crisis has “accelerated” efforts to generate money through subscriptions and eCommerce, with 30% of commercial publishers surveyed indicating that this would be an “important” or “very important” revenue stream for them in 2022.

More widely, the only revenue areas deemed more important were – no surprises here – subscriptions, advertising and events.

eCommerce’s moment has come.

eCommerce’s moment has come. A combination of shifting consumer behaviours, coupled with the urgency to diversify revenue streams, means that growing numbers of publishers are ready to cross the online shopping Rubicon. 

We hope that this report can help more publishers to see the potential for eCommerce as part of their revenue mix, how it can complement their content and provide a logical next step in their relationship with the media they are already accessing (and often acting upon). 

That’s a story that we have seen unfolding over time, and one that we will continue to watch – and share – with interest.

This is an excerpt from our free-to-download report, eCommerce in Publishing: Trends & Strategies