Netflix gets serious about retail as it launches online merchandise store

There will be Lupin pillows and Netflix-branded boxer shorts.

There will be caps, necklaces, charms and hoodies, all of it for sale at, a site that went live on Thursday (US time), when the world’s biggest streaming company plants a flag in the territory of e-commerce.

Lupin the French crime show about an expert thief, will be front and centre at later this month.Credit:Emmanuel Guimier/Netflix

The shopping site gives Netflix a new way to bring in cash after a quarter in which its explosive growth showed signs of slowing down in the increasingly crowded field of streamed entertainment, one that now includes a formidable rival in Disney+.

Unlike some of its competitors, including Hulu and HBO Max, Netflix, the home of Bridgerton, The Witcher and The Crown does not have commercials, relying on the monthly fees paid by its more than 200 million subscribers around the world. That is where comes in.

The site is the next logical step for a company that has gotten serious about the retail business in the last year, an effort led by executive Josh Simon, who runs Netflix’s consumer products division.

Simon joined the company in March 2020 after working in a similar role at Nike. On his watch, the consumer products team has grown to 60 people, from 20; and Netflix has made deals with Walmart, Sephora, Amazon and Target to sell clothes, toys, beauty kits and housewares, among other items, related to its series and films.

Netflix created the online store with the tech company Shopify. Simon described it as a “boutique,” adding that products tied to only a few Netflix shows will be included in its first few weeks.

Lupin the buzzy French crime show about an expert thief, will be front and centre at later this month. In addition to baseball caps, T-shirts, hoodies and sweaters, the Lupin-related merchandise will include throw pillows for $US60 ($74) apiece and a side table ($US150), all of it designed and produced in collaboration with the Louvre museum.

Two Netflix anime series, Eden and Yasuke will be featured in the store on its first day. A clock based on the Yasuke character Haruto, created in collaboration with artist and designer Nathalie Nguyen, is priced at $US135.

There is also a Yasuke clothing line, which came about through a collaboration with the streetwear label Hypland and its founder, Jordan Bentley. “He’s part of that drop culture, where kids are lining up on Fairfax Avenue in Los Angeles to buy his products,” Simon said.

In the coming months, products tied to other Netflix shows, including Stranger Things and Money Heist will appear on the online shelves.

The demand seems to be there: Thousands of fan-made products related to the Netflix documentary series Tiger King including candles, face masks and greeting cards, are on sale at Etsy and similar sites, without the company’s blessing.

Netflix has capitalized on hits like Bridgerton a period romance from producer Shonda Rhimes, which debuted in December. Working with the clothing company Phenomenal, Netflix started selling $US59 sweatshirts inspired by the show. The line includes a lavender hoodie with the words “I Wish to Be Entertained” across the front, as well as a crew neck with the message, “I Burn for You.”

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, a Netflix romantic-comedy film franchise, has spawned a clothing and accessories line at H&M as well as beauty kits at Sephora. There are also Mattel dolls and a Walmart plush toy tied to the Netflix animated hit Over the Moon. will allow the company to move faster to meet demand for items related to Netflix shows that trend on social media. “We did that pretty quickly,” Simon said of the Bridgerton sweatshirts, “but I think we’re talking about a matter of days when we have our next unexpected hit.”

The shopping site gives Netflix a new way to bring in cash after a quarter in which its explosive growth showed signs of slowing down in the increasingly crowded field of streamed entertainment.Credit:Bloomberg

A desire for quick turnaround times played into the company’s decision to run its store through Shopify, whose technology supports an array of vendors including Allbirds, Kith, The New York Times and Kim Kardashian’s Skims.

Sales of licensed products tied to shows, films and characters were about $US49 billion in the United States in 2019 and $US128 billion globally, according to the most recent study of the industry by Licensing International, a trade group. The biggest player, by orders of magnitude, is Disney.

Simon, the Netflix executive, said the money generated by the shopping site is not expected to match the amount Netflix makes through its deals with store chains and fashion brands. “Practically speaking, the revenue will come more from those partners around the world in terms of sheer footprint and number of locations and magnitude,” he said.

Unlike Disney, which is estimated to generate tens of billions of dollars in sales each year in merchandise, Netflix has no plans for brick-and-mortar stores in malls or Times Square.

Mark A. Cohen, the director of retail studies and an adjunct professor at Columbia University’s Business School, said he was sceptical about the longevity of the Netflix store after the excitement around its opening fades, in part because of the come-and-go cycle of Netflix hits.

“Most of them have a short shelf life, unlike a Disney property, which is a generational-long ride,” he said.

The New York Times

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