April 20, 2012, 10:41 AM

Elle connects fans with e-retailers via Facebook

The fashion magazine launched a shopping app on the social network.

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Fashion magazine Elle is linking visitors to its Facebook page with e-retail sites where consumers can buy apparel and accessories that follow the latest fashion trends, as selected by the magazine and its advertisers.

Elle’s Facebook page this week added a shoppable “Trend Report” app that includes photos of models on fashion runways wearing the latest styles, as well as pictures and links of products that follow that style trend. The spring trend report, for example, categorizes the season’s styles as flower girl, sea world, sporting goods, portrait of a lady, showgirls and wanderlust. Each category features about a dozen or so shoes, apparel, jewelry and fragrance products. Clicking on a pair of $68 Havianas sneakers brings up a short description of the product with a link to buy it.

If a consumer isn’t ready to buy, she can still use the application to share her feelings about the product to her Facebook friends by clicking Love, Want or Own buttons. Clicking the Buy button takes a consumer to the corresponding product page on the shoe manufacturer’s site to complete the purchase. Participating retailers include Bebe, Nine West, Tommy Hilfiger and Gucci.

The shopping application technology is supplied by social commerce technology firm 8th Bridge Inc.

The social commerce effort is a way for print and web site advertisers to extend their reach to consumers on Facebook through Elle content. “We are constantly looking for ways to give our readers enhanced access to our brands and the expert content that we create,” says Grant Whitmore, vice president of Hearst Digital Media, a division of Hearst Corp., the publishing firm that owns Elle. The company calls the social commerce effort an experiment and says there is no revenue share arrangement between e-retailers and Elle for the traffic the app may send their way, although Hearst will be tracking referral traffic

This isn’t the first time Hearst has tried to digitally connect its magazine readers with e-retailers. Last year, it worked with J.C. Penney Co. Inc. to launch two e-commerce sites that integrated the publisher’s editorial expertise with the retailer’s e-commerce know-how. Esquire magazine helped select and market the styles featured on CladMen.com, a men’s apparel site; and Good Housekeeping, Redbook and O, The Oprah Magazine integrated with GiftingGrace.com, a gift site. J.C. Penney, which owned the sites and had a revenue-share agreement with Hearst, announced it will shutter both e-commerce sites later this month to focus on the J.C. Penney brand. J.C. Penney is No. 20 in Internet Retailer’s Top 500 Guide.

Scott Ballantyne, chief marketing officer of flash-sale e-retailer Fab.com, will speak at the Internet Retailer Conference & Exhibition this June in Chicago in a session entitled “Going social from Day One: How a start-up online retailer gained 2 million members through social marketing.

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