Disney+ is expanding into e-commerce with a subscriber-only merchandise store

Confirming previous reports that Disney+ will soon expand to e-commerce, the streamer today announced the launch of a new trial period that will allow Disney+ subscribers to purchase exclusive merchandise from brands including Star Wars, Marvel, Disney Animation Studios, National Geographic and Pix directly. from the details pages of selected movies, series and shorts on the streaming service. Starting today, the store will be available for Disney+ major profiles in the US with users who are 18 or older, the company said.

News of Disney’s plans to merge streaming and shopping was first reported in September by The Wall Street Journal, which noted that the feature would rely on QR codes to direct viewers to Disney’s online store.

That’s right, as Disney explained today that the intended experience will involve Disney+ subscribers holding their phone up to a TV screen to scan a QR code to view and purchase exclusive merchandise. Alternatively, they can visit a special URL — shopDisney.com/DisneyPlusSpecialAccess — if they want a more traditional online shopping experience.

In any case, users must authenticate using their Disney+ login credentials to check out and purchase. This means that, for now, the merchandise will only be exclusive to Disney+ subscribers.

A select collection of merchandise will tie into several major franchises and titles, Disney says, including “Star Wars,” “Black Panther,” “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness,” “Frozen 2” and “Lightyear.”

Through the new feature, customers will have early access to products including the DarkSaber Legacy Set from “The Mandalorian,” Luke Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi Battle of the Heroes Legacy Set Lightsaber, Ahsoka Tano Legacy Lightsaber Hilts (to be signed by Ashley Eckstein, voice Ahsoka in “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” and “Star Wars Rebels”), Ahsoka Tano Special Edition Doll (also signed by Eckstein), Doctor Strange Cloak, Scarlet Witch’s Ear Belt, Vibranium from Captain Carter Shield, Collectible Mask ​​“Black Panther”, Wakanda Forever Artist series jacket from “Black Panther” series and World of Wakanda Artist series puzzle.

In addition, customers will be able to get exclusive access to custom-made merchandise, including T-shirt and sweatshirt designs from “Frozen 2” and “Lightyear.”

“Having special access to this curated collection of merchandise for the upcoming holiday season is the latest example of the many ways we’re experimenting to improve the customer experience on Disney+, including enhancing membership benefits,” said Alisa. Bowen, president of Disney+, in a statement. “We’re excited to work with shopDisney to explore how we can better serve our audience by expanding the way they interact with the stories and characters they love on Disney+.”

While the merchandise store is live, Disney has yet to offer additional details about its larger plan to launch an Amazon Prime-like membership for consumers. The company previously confirmed to Deadline that it is exploring the idea of ​​a membership program that would give subscribers a range of benefits, including early access to products — as it launches today — along with discounts or special access to theme parks, resorts and more. However, Disney has not yet revealed a price or time frame for this show.

Still, by tying the shopping experience to the streaming service, Disney+ may uncover another source of revenue beyond a potential increase in its ad-supported plan that will instead drop the subscription price to $7.99 per month. $10.99 ad. – free service. Disney fans are also often merchandise hoarders, and early access to merchandise can increase appeal ahead of the holidays. Also, advertising alongside shows and movies is one of the best places to list these products for sale. The only question is whether streaming viewers will really want to fiddle with their phones while they relax watching TV.

It will be a wonder if Netflix doesn’t copy this model, given its own expansion of merchandise in recent years. Today, Netflix merchandise is already featured in Target stores, and this month the company partnered with Walmart to expand its “Netflix Hub” concept, bringing its products to all 2,400 Walmart stores.

Comcast’s NBCU has invested in an e-commerce platform that connects viewers to products via QR codes on networks such as NBC, NBC Sports, Bravo, E!, USA and others. It has also made purchasable merchandise available to Peacock viewers on select shows such as “Love Island USA” in recent months.

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