Exclusive Q&A: Us Weekly explains e-commerce push

Dan Berthiaume
Senior Editor, Technology
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Us Weekly recently described the vision for its new e-commerce site.

A celebrity- and entertainment news-focused magazine is trying to convert readers into shoppers.

Chain Store Age recently spoke with Nikki Laughlin, chief innovation officer and president of marketing and brand development of UsWeekly parent company Accelerate360. UsWeeklyrecently rolled, a new e-commerce site featuring curated items in categories including fashion, wellness, beauty, and home. The site focuses on products that are currently trending and are either used, created, and or sold and marketed by celebrities.

Laughlin provided some insight on what drove Accelerate360 and UsWeekly to launch this new digital commerce venture, and where they see it headed.

What made Us Weekly decide to enter the e-commerce space?
Us Weekly has been a trusted source for decades, famous for making the latest trends in fashion, beauty, entertainment and celebrity lifestyle accessible and relatable. With the growth across digital platforms, the Us Weekly brand now has the ability to bring culture, content and commerce together in the e-commerce space as another way for our audience to learn about and gain access to the hottest trends and brands. 

The assortment includes exclusive bundles from Toni Braxton's Nude Sugar and Lala Kent's Give Them Lala Beauty, and a total of 35 brands led by the nation's most recognized celebrities to deliver more than 250 launch items across the fashion, wellness, beauty, and home categories.

Would you ever consider opening a brick-and-mortar store?
That’s certainly an area of expertise for Accelerate360, the parent company of Us Weekly. Accelerate360 is deeply woven into the physical retail landscape with over 100 years of experience, specializing in omnichannel sales, logistics, data and media, and today services over 65,000 brick-and-mortar retail locations each week. Built on that retail expertise and infrastructure, Us Weekly will be launching a new program with select retailers to delight and inspire shoppers with trending brands and products.

How difficult was setting up the technology platform to support e-commerce operations?
Over the last several years, Accelerate360 has developed several direct-to-consumer and business-to-business e-commerce marketplaces, as well as proprietary online shopping solutions for regional grocers. We are constantly exploring and investing in the latest technology to engage and delight our audience – from sampling to live shopping to social commerce.

This latest online shopping venture is a natural evolution and extension of the Us Weekly brand, and is built with our advanced infrastructure that can deliver products in two days or less.  

How do you connect your magazine and retail branding?
The Us Weekly brand is built on a shared passion we have with our audience; a passion for entertainment and lifestyle content through the lens of celebrity – making us a trusted and leading voice in all things pop culture, entertainment and celebrity. That shared passion seamlessly translates across physical and digital experiences, making the brand accessible wherever and however our audiences choose to engage.

Headquartered in Atlanta, Accelerate360 is an omnichannel distribution, data, and media company that provides customized solutions for consumer product brands and retailers. Accelerate360′s media group, A360 Media, includes brands in celebrity/entertainment, women’s lifestyle, and men’s active lifestyle, engaging consumers monthly across multichannel platforms including digital, magazine, and social media channels.