Gen Z’s digitally infused lifestyle and affinity for experiences have been breathlessly documented, as retail struggles to crack the code on this new cohort of consumers. And though teens and young 20somethings still enjoying visiting stores, the internet remains a top source of inspiration for what they read, buy, listen to and watch.
Complex Networks, the global lifestyle and media company, has a new way to connect its devoted following of young adults with the latest offerings of cutting-edge fashion, art, streetwear and design. Launched Monday, Complex Shop offers a curated selection of products in a reimagining of the digital marketplace, the company said.
“We’ve been laser focused on continuing the diversification of our revenue streams, all of which have our strong brands and premium content at their core,” Complex Networks president Christian Baesler said in a statement.
“Given our authority in the sneakers, streetwear, art and design space, expanding our commerce presence is one of our biggest growth opportunities,” Baesler added.
The Complex Shop incorporates native checkout technology from Bonsai, which makes commerce platforms for publishers, so that visitors don’t have to browse away from Complex in order to transact.
“With the strengths of Bonsai’s technology, expertise and retailer network, we’re confident the Complex Shop will be loved by our existing supporters while also bringing in a new audience that celebrates creativity and the people, processes and products that embody it,” Baesler said.
Together, the companies are helping coveted young consumers discover more of what they love while giving the media business a new opportunity to drive revenue and blur the lines between content and commerce.
“Through this partnership, Bonsai and Complex are creating a model for publishers to transform their most engaging content into a native commerce experience,” Bonsai founder and CEO Saad Siddiqui said.
Complex Networks is keeping good company with this new foray into commerce. A rash of startups has developed new business models aimed at reaching hard-to-capture, attention-starved Gen Zers. In addition to Dote’s mobile video-fueled social commerce app for young women, new entrants like Dropp and Duzy TV blend technologies like video, blockchain and social to engage young consumers bored with the traditional, staid shopping experience.
And in September, Foot Locker invested in the power of NTWRK’s ability to serve relevant content and shopping opportunities to street-smart young consumers clued into urban culture.
From media players like Complex to social giant Instagram, commerce outsiders are looking to monetize their platforms and turn casual users into paying customers—all without leaving their carefully constructed ecosystems.
As these new models and partnerships break down the barriers between what does and doesn’t constitute shopping, traditional retailers will need to find a way to inject their stores—both physical and digital—with some of that experiential magic the industry has been buzzing about for the past few years.