Daily Mail Launches Its Fashionable E-Commerce Platform in the U.S.

Popular service lets readers buy celeb-inspired outfits

While many fashion publications are still struggling to develop e-commerce platforms to bolster their bottom lines, Britain's Daily Mail Online claims to have found a successful formula with its Femail Fashion Finder, which allows readers to purchase clothing and accessories inspired by their favorite celebrities' outfits. Until recently, the feature was only available to the site's U.K. readers; now, Daily Mail has finally begun rolling out the product in the U.S.

Fashion Finder, which launched in the U.K. in 2013, offers both high-end and affordable options from retailers like Net-a-Porter and Topshop, all of which are blindly scouted by a team of dedicated editors. (Advertisers can't pay to have products featured in Fashion Finder, although they can advertise around it.) According to the company, readers in the U.K. purchase an average 450 items a day through the platform, which generates nearly $800,000 in retailer sales each month, from which Daily Mail receives a "small commission."

"The numbers that the U.K. was putting up in terms of engagement around [Fashion Finder] were pretty spectacular," said Jon Steinberg, CEO of Daily Mail North America, who attributed the success to the fact that it's an editorially created product. "I think the reason why [other e-commerce efforts] don't work in some cases is that it starts with the commercial imperative, like, 'Lets sell lots of stuff using affiliate,' as opposed to, 'What do people actually like to engage with?'"

While Steinberg said he doesn't expect affiliate revenue to be especially strong, he sees a lot of potential in selling advertising around Fashion Finder. "What we've found is that it's a great editorial product that creates engagement, and the sponsorship opportunities around it are where we really make the revenue," he told Adweek, adding that the product will likely feature its first sponsor in the next 30 to 60 days.

After a soft launch several weeks ago, Fashion Finder's editorial team, led by Lisa Potter, is researching which celebrities move product in the U.S.

"There's a whole category of celebrities that we're particularly interested in who are maybe not what you would call typical blockbuster movie stars but are highly active on social media and have enormous followings," said Steinberg, citing examples such as model Chrissy Teigen (who inspired a "look for less" pick that quickly sold out on Zappos) and would-be "lifestyle guru" Hilaria Baldwin (wife of actor Alec Baldwin).

The U.K.'s biggest seller? Kate Middleton, of course.