Publishing giant Condé Nast — owner of GQ, Vogue and Vanity Fair — will be shutting down Style.com for good, according to reports this morning, after only nine months of being out on the market.
In a statement released yesterday, the firm confirmed that Style.com — a multi-brand eCommerce site where Condé Nast has reportedly already invested over $100 million — will be shut down effective immediately.
Style.com shoppers — such as there are any — will be redirected to the site of its new partner, Farfetch, a rapidly growing online marketplace for high-end boutiques in which Condé Nast was an early investor.
“Our experience with Style.com taught us that content is a powerful driver of commerce, and the combination of great editorial with a great shopping experience creates a great user experience and revenue upside,” said Matt Starker, the general manager of digital strategy at Condé Nast. He acknowledged, however, that the skill sets required to create content and those required to run a seamless shopping site were different.
The move toward eCommerce came for Condé as publishing has become a much more thinly capitalized and much more competitive space where anyone with an internet connection and a digital camera can fancy themselves an online publisher. Style.com was the firm’s most heavily hyped attempt at rethinking monetization with an eCommerce marketplace all their own — but rumor has it the re-imagining of Style.com suffered from being better in theory than in practice nearly from the word go.
The introduction was repeatedly delayed, promised high-end brands were nowhere to be seen, sales were sluggish and staff quickly moved on.
Nine months in and the promised U.S. rollout had never happened.
Jonathan Newhouse, chairman and chief executive of Condé Nast International, said in a statement to the website staff Tuesday morning: “Three and a half years ago Condé Nast started Style.com with the aim of creating a worldwide eCommerce business. Everyone has worked very hard. There is a great deal to be proud of.
“Sadly, the results of the business have fallen very far short of where we hoped they would be. These decisions were taken only after all other alternatives were explored. It has been a painful decision to make, and I know it is painful for all of you. You worked with tremendous dedication. But in the end it was not enough to achieve the success we hoped to make.”
Now moving on, Condé Nast is instead hyping the efforts of Farfetch and their emerging partnership as an exciting “next chapter.”