BuzzFeed looking to build its own “digital shopping mall”

Far before the pandemic, the convenience of online shopping has led to changes in consumer behavior that have been affecting traditional retailers and mall owners. But with many consumers now actively avoiding stores, online shopping has been surging, and that’s a huge opportunity for content producing websites, not just e-tailers like Amazon. BuzzFeed’s executive team has recognized this and now wants to build its own “digital shopping mall” to convert website visitors into shoppers.

“The rationale is we know we drive a significant amount of demand through content… [so] we want to close that loop and have people come back to BuzzFeed to shop,” Nilla Ali, BuzzFeed’s Senior Vice President of Commerce explained to Adweek. “What is the digital version of window shopping? No retailer does that so well. A lot of people love to shop for joy, that’s hard to quantify. We’re thinking about how to create an environment conducive to that.”

BuzzFeed’s commerce business – the site has over 1,000 retail partners – has grown astronomically during the pandemic even without an explicit shopping destination on the website. In 2019, commerce generated $40 million for Buzzfeed. In 2020 the publication’s numerous shopping-related articles saw about 900 million views, and commerce now accounts for over 20% of BuzzFeed’s revenues compared with just 9% back in 2017.

Exact details or a timeline for BuzzFeed’s shopping vertical are not yet known, but it’s expected that visitors would at least be able to search BuzzFeed’s thousands of posts, browse shopping content by category, and make purchases with a native on-site checkout.

As a juggernaut in the content production business, BuzzFeed already has an advantage, but its website visitors are also more inclined to enjoy shopping compared to other top media websites. According to Interpret’s New Media Measure®, 52% of BuzzFeed readers enjoy shopping in their personal time, which puts the website at the top of the pack, tied with Cnet, which is known for its tech reviews and also drives a fair share of purchases via its content.