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Subscriptions e-commerce portal for Time Inc UK

Magazines Direct manages subscription sales for the entire Time Inc UK portfolio. The site generates well over 100,000 orders each year and accommodates a wide range of test plans and marketing initiatives to drive conversion rates.

The key features of this site fall into three categories; front end features, check-out functionality and back-office integration. Below is a summary of features along with a brief explanation of how we have used Wide Area technology to deliver them.

Front-end features

The core magazinesdirect.com portfolio site is primarily used for event-based marketing. Christmas is obviously the biggest event of the year, but gifting also spikes on other dates in the calendar such as Mothers Day, Easter and January Sales.

We’ve added a bespoke feature to the Time Inc UK management system to create simple landing pages or micro-sites for targeted marketing campaigns. Each landing page can be customised in three ways; the publications that are included in it, the copy associated with each product and the overall look and feel of the micro-site or landing page. 

Below is an example of a landing page for a targeted email campaign.

To create this page, marketers select all of the page assets that they want to appear on the page via a single custom article in the content management system. Images, copy, codes are prices already exist within the application, so their job is to select the magazines that they want to appear, decide on the presentation order and  add headings. Each article slot can be re-ordered by dragging and dropping the slot into the new location.

Below is an example fo the article behind this email landing page.

Branded product pages

Outside of the event-based selling calendar, the sales switch from the portfolio site to single product landing pages and brand-based marketing.  

For these pages the marketing team can customise templates via the management interface by changing colours and uploading background images. They also have the ability to direct customers straight to the checkout, pre-selecting delivery zone, payment method and term.  

We have also created a mobile version of the site.

To present MagazinesDirect content in these different formats we simply create a new set of front-end templates for each device or set of URLs. This is easy for us to do because the relationship between the content held in our management system and the templates that control what the visitor see, is very soft..

The glue in our system is the flexible coding that determines what content is displayed where and when, allowing us to put the content and styling completely in the hands of the direct marketers who drive the site content.

Once the design requirements are agreed, our front-end developers create the pages, without any input from developers.

Checkout features 

We have implemented three check-out sequences across the Time Inc UK portal; one for the multi-product portfolio environment, one for the single product brand promotion and one for mobile. 

All three checkouts can handle:

  • One-off or continuous credit/debit card sales
  • Single value or low start direct debit says
  • PayPal sales
  • Multi-buy discounts
  • Voucher codes

Credit card payments can be processed online via a payment gateway or batched and sent securely to the fulfilment bureau and processed there.

A recent addition to the checkout is GiftDirect; a plug-in to the core check-out code that accepts a gift purchase without the need for a delivery address. 

Instead of a delivery address we collect an email address or mobile phone number for the recipient, along with at a time and date to either email or SMS a gift message.

The message includes a link to a redemption page for the recipient to ‘collect’ their gift by providing a delivery address.

Back office integration

The back-office integration required for this project involved working with the Time Inc UK subscription system Bluebirs. Like most magazine subscription systems, the fulfilment process is driven by a sequence of offer codes that determine the product, the price and the promotion source.

We synchronise offer codes with Bluebird every hour. Each publication has a default image and product text, so marketers only need intervene to update this conent or to create a bespoke page.

Once an order has been taken, we then need to send purchase information back to QSS for them to fulfil the order and, in some instances, process payment.

Our ability to create multiple fulfilment channels has allowed Time Inc UK to include subscription offers from other publishers on the site as we can despatch those orders to the appropriate fulfilment destination.

For more information about custom e-commerce possibilities and integration options, call us 020 7631 9280

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