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BuzzFeed builds e-commerce platform to 'reclaim' retail revenue from Google and Amazon

BuzzFeed has built out an e-commerce platform in a move to own its readers’ shopping journeys and reclaim some of the profit Google, Amazon and other digital “middlemen” are taking from its e-commerce business.

The publisher has partnered with e-commerce platform Bonsai for a solution that keeps readers on its website while they are purchasing items on mobile or desktop, giving BuzzFeed the ability to better track their shopping habits and create a more frictionless experience, while earning higher commission rates from sales.

Publishers have long been frustrated with what is known in the industry as the “attribution problem,” where writers recommend certain products or activities and link out to retailers’ sites, or readers leave the website to look up and purchase items on other sites.

“Creating our own e-commerce platform gives us the opportunity to own the entire user journey and create an even deeper, more direct relationship with our readers,” says Nilla Ali, senior VP of commerce at BuzzFeed. “We know that we drive meaningful discovery for our audiences, and we’re now focused on collapsing that journey from discovery to conversion.”

The setup is simple: Within BuzzFeed articles, such as its listicles, readers can click on “Quick View” buttons below items that appear within the story and quickly add them to shopping carts. They can choose to purchase items right away or return to them later by clicking on the shopping bag in the top-right corner of the webpage, a common feature on found on most e-commerce sites.

BuzzFeed began testing the platform on July 27, starting with a new product-focused site, BuzzFeed Shopping, where articles tease products for readers.

Three retailers are onboard for the launch of the new platform: e.l.f Cosmetics, a popular makeup and skincare brand; HipDot, which sells colorful makeup sets; and Bellesa Boutique, which offers women’s sex toys.

Articles take the form of listicles: “20 Things From e.l.f That’ll Show You Can Go Cruelty-Free On a Budget,” “8 Products From HipDot For Anyone Who Likes To Have Fun With Makeup,” or “Just 15 Sex Toys From Bellesa That Reviewers Love.” BuzzFeed notes at the top of these articles that it “may collect a share of sales or other compensation from the links on this page if you decide to shop from them,” similar to how the publisher handles articles with products from affiliates.